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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Food service staff form foundation of Univ culture

Published: October 25, 2013
Section: Opinions, Top Stories

One of the things I was worried about coming back to school this semester with the change in the food service provider was whether or not the same employees would still be around to be handling our meals. Of course, it would be extremely difficult to train an entire team of new employees over one summer, so I expected a good amount to be back, even if it was a new company running everything. Still, I was relieved that almost all of the familiar faces were in Usdan the first time I stepped back in there.

I was excited to see most of the employees had carried over because they form a major part of our community here at Brandeis. It feels sometimes I interact with them almost as much as I would a professor, or maybe I just eat a lot. They are incredibly kind, helpful and are usually quick with a light-hearted joke to make your day. If ever I am feeling down or stressed with class, I can count on them to cheer me up. The food service employees just make Brandeis a warmer environment, and I can not imagine this school without them.

We can not blame them for the inadequacies of Sodexo and the poor quality of food they provide. They work really hard and are typically generous with their serving sizes. It is as if they completely understand the students’ qualms with them and take our side on most issues. Even if the food here suddenly turned into a four-star restaurant, I would still appreciate the efforts of the food service staff. I believe that they truly care about our well-being and want to see the best in us. And that is incredible after dealing with around 3000 stressed out college students daily, and we are not always the kindest people on earth.

My respect on campus does not end at the cashier. The facilities staff provides an invaluable service to our school. Living in Hassenfeld, the bathrooms and halls generally stay clean, except on the weekends, when I assume most of the cleaning staff is home enjoying their weekends as they should, and it makes me appreciate them all the greater. The bathrooms on my floor become trashed after just two days with no one around to clean up after us. It can be really disgusting sometimes, especially as the showers sit with dirt and standing water over a weekend. I wish they would work everyday so the bathrooms can stay fresh, but that would be cruel. I might not interact with them as often as with the food service staff, yet I am still as grateful to see a custodian around.
Now, I know that some of the staff can be grumpy at times, and it might take them a bit longer to serve us some days. Maybe they did not take your order right, and instead of getting guacamole on your sub, it is just very dry and bland. I know I have gotten frustrated waiting for a bagel at Einstein’s for it never to come and I have to ask to make sure that it is on the list. Things can get a little bit crazy when it gets to be around six o’clock in Usdan or during the morning rush at Einstein’s. The staff here are human, and they will make mistakes, just as we are likely to lock ourselves out of our rooms or just completely blank on a question during an exam.

That is what we have to remember everyday during the semester, and also remind ourselves of how terrible and disgusting this school would be if all of the staff were to just stop showing up to work. They are an integral part of Brandeis, and make our lives as students tremendously simpler. The food service and facilities staff deserve our utmost respect and gratitude. Even if it is a simple “thank you,” or just cleaning up after yourself at the table, it can go a long way. I would not know how they compare to other schools, but the staff here are wonderful, and make this school shine like the top of the Chrysler Building.