NSU’s Undergraduate Student Government Association (USGA) is planning an “NSU Appreciation Day” on Tuesday, March 20 to “celebrate” students, staff and faculty by providing with food from local vendors instead of Chartwells, who they say haven’t been responsive to student concerns.
According to USGA, the goal of this appreciation day is to show Chartwells the kind of food students want on campus.
Alex Lopez, president of USGA, said that undergraduate students feel as though Shark Dining is not listening to their concerns and requests as efficiently as desired. The event comes after multiple instances where USGA alleges Shark Dining ignored student complaints they were presented with.
Of a Shark Dining meeting on Feb. 16, Lopez said, “The whole demeanor of the meeting was blatantly attacking student government and not answering student questions. To us, it was very frustrating that this is the stance they were taking. I don’t eat on campus — I live [in an apartment], I have a stove. I was just expressing how everyone else feels,” said Lopez.
The meeting that Lopez mentioned was held to talk about upcoming changes to Shark Dining and also featured a question and answer segment between students and Chartwell’s and NSU representatives like Adee Shekar and Stefanie Furniss, director of operations and director of operations for Shark Dining, respectively. The Current covered the meeting in the Feb. 20 issue. In the meeting, Furniss said that the changes made to Shark Dining were based on feedback they got from USGA who worked with them over the summer to redesign dining options on campus.
At the meeting, several concerns were raised, including the service provided by employees, and quality of food, such as flavor and variety. Lopez said that these concerns have been brought up by USGA frequently in the past, but not much has improved.
“The quality and service is the main thing,” said Lopez. “Even to date… I went to Greens and no one was there. It took fifteen minutes. I could’ve just walked away with my salad without paying for it. The same day, someone took a picture of the chicken — completely uncooked.”
Furniss said that Shark Dining hadn’t been made aware of this event until The Current contacted them. However, she said that Shark Dining is open to hearing student concerns and even has structures in place to do so.
“Last spring, in cooperation with USGA and NSU’s Office of Business Services, Shark Dining created the campus advisory board (CAB) that is made up of SGA members and any student who wishes to participate and provide feedback,” said Furniss. “Shark Dining views the campus dining program as the students’ dining program, thus the creation of the advisory board: for students, by students. Any and all comments, questions and concerns that are discussed at the CAB are evaluated and necessary action is taken as needed.”
Lopez is not alone in his concerns about dining.
Karoline Ortiz, freshman biology major, said, “I think that sometimes they have good things, but I’m a picky eater — and I’m sure a lot of people are. There’s not a lot of things that I personally like to eat.” Ortiz explained that she rarely finds foods without at least one ingredient she doesn’t like.
Alexandria Gartman, freshman behavioral neuroscience major, was also concerned about the variety.
“The quality of the food is alright — not the best, but not completely terrible. I really think they try to get as much variety in the UC as they can, but since they don’t have a weekly menu it’s hard to appreciate the variety,” Gartman said.
Cassandra Bakotic, a residential senator for USGA, said that this is not an attack on Chartwells.
“We’re not exactly discouraging people from eating Chartwells food. We’re just encouraging them to eat what we provide. In no way are we dissing Chartwells through this event. We’ll just be providing another food source for students that’s free and on campus,” said Bakotic.
USGA will provide food from breakfast to dinner. Kosher, vegan, vegetarian and gluten free options will be provided to support the healthy eating of all students, regardless of their dietary restrictions. Details about the food and location of the event will be finalized after spring break.
“Change can happen. It’s our response to their response,” said Lopez. “It’s our way of telling students we’re here and we listen.”
Furniss said that she wants students to approach Shark Dining with any concerns they may have.
She said, “Shark Dining would like the students to know that we are here to meet their campus dining needs. We encourage all students to attend the CAB meetings to share constructive feedback on the dining program. Instant feedback can also be shared with Shark Dining management via Text2Solve.”
Students can learn contact Shark Dining through Text2Solve by texting 954-398-5398 or by communicating directly with any member of Shark Dining management. Students can learn more about the USGA appreciation day by contacting their representatives in the Office of Campus Life and Student Engagement.