By now, the student body is probably aware that the dining contract is up for bid. Over the next few months, the Dining Task Force will be working to evaluate Carleton’s dining service options. In January, the Dining Task Force will make its recommendation to the College Council, which will make the final decision. This is the first contract bidding process that Carleton has had in forty years, and the company that is selected is likely to be on campus for the next decade. As the student members of the Dining Task Force, we are coordinating Student Working Groups to fact-check on the companies bidding and perform research on ways to improve on the present dining situation. We’ve also spent the last few weeks talking to students and we’ve found that there are still a lot of misconceptions floating around about the dining contract review process.
Myth: Contractors aren’t considering us because they don’t want to work in the Burton dining facility.
Fact: Not every company is a good match for a small, rural school like Carleton. The Burton facility is not the major issue—after all, it’s going to be renovated within a few years anyways. We will have four dining providers–Sodexho, Aramark, Bon Appetit, and Creative Dining—bidding on the contract, and so we have several good options as we try to find the best fit for Carleton.
Myth: The administration wants to keep Sodexho, and nothing’s going to change.
Fact: Obviously, keeping Sodexho would be one of the simpler options, but that doesn’t mean that anyone is going into this process with their minds made up. Our Dining Task Force will be looking for the best deal for Carleton students, not the simplest option. Sodexho is definitely a contender, but one of the advantages of the review process is that we’ll be able to negotiate new terms. This means that even if we decide to renew the Sodexho contract, you can still expect to see serious changes in the dining hall.
Myth: This will be a closed process.
Fact: One of the roles of students of the Dining Task Force is to act as the intermediary voice between the administration, including non-student members of the task force, and the student body. It is our job to make sure the student voice is heard – whether the issue is affordability, taste, special dietary concerns, or ethical accountability. Because of the plethora of factors involved in decision making and accountability, there is much more to this process than a black and white pro- or anti-Sodexho stance.
Over the next few months, we’ll be doing our best to keep the student body informed and involved. Hopefully the word has gotten out about some of the ways we’ll be doing this—students can attend our school wide public forums, join a student working group to shape the process through research and advocacy, join our Facebook group, Carls for Delicious Dining, and/or email [email protected] to further voice your opinion.