Campus Auxiliary Services has lowered the number of its employees, student employee hours and dining hall hours for the semester. These reductions have drawn ire from some students.
In order to keep the price increases below 3.5 percent, four managers from the operating budget have been let go and student labor hours have been reduced by about 10,000, according to CAS Executive Director Mark Scott.
“These were all painful decisions,” Scott said. “We’ve stretched some folks, I think, to their backs but these are the things we’ve had to do in order to maintain our discipline to our 3-3.5 percent increase on the appliance.”
Along with employee and labor hour decreases, dining hours have been cut back. Max Market now closes an hour earlier, at midnight as opposed to 1 a.m. and Fusion Market is closed on Saturdays. Fusion Market and Mary Jemison dining hall each close two hours earlier than last semester, at 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. respectively.
In order to decide when to make these changes, Scott and his team tried to evaluate when the dining areas and cafes were the busiest and emptiest during the day.
“I think that it’s better to have dining halls open later because sometimes I end up working until late,” pre-childhood and special education major freshman Olivia Davis said. “I get off track with meals, so sometimes I have to eat really late. I don’t want to miss dinner because I was up late doing work or something.”
The changes in CAS dining hours intend to fit the students’ needs, according to CAS Marketing Manager Becky Stewart. The increased hours of Dash at the Commons allows students on South Side to eat on the way to their morning classes while CAS continues to renovate Red Jacket Dining Hall, Stewart said.
As further evidence of changing student interests, Scott pointed out that more and more students are using their accounts at The Big Tree Inn, Chowhound and vending machines, which are all further from North Campus and do not require passing through construction areas to reach. Davis also believes that Dash often is not ideal as an option for meals.
“I usually just get little snacks from Dash because the actual meal options are pretty limited and I feel they’re expensive,” Davis said. “It’s convenient because it’s closer but I’d rather get something from main campus.”
“We know better this year what student patterns and behaviors are, when and where they will be visiting,” Stewart said. “We’re not looking at just cutting pieces, we’re looking at how to best fulfill students’ needs while making sure we’re making the smartest business choices.”
One of the major changes in student behavior is the decreased interest in the late night dining options. Students are utilizing late night dining less and less, according to Director of Culinary Operations & Executive Chef for CAS Jonna Anne, who believes this phenomenon comes as a result of students taking earlier classes.
“We’ve noticed that late night has gotten shorter and shorter,” Anne said. “There are fewer people being out and about. That’s just the habits of the guests we have, the students on campus.”
Anne also mentioned that in order to try to fulfill students’ needs, CAS has explored 24-hour dining options and found them to be unfeasible. When Max Market was open 24 hours in the past, service would stop between 1:30 a.m. and 5:30 a.m., according to Anne.
Scott looked to the campus construction as a possible influencing factor in terms of where students are dining.
“People are kind of programmed in their ways and our students are as busy as anybody else. They’re on limited schedules and having to go around those fences, it may take a few more minutes and those are precious minutes,” Scott said.
With business at dining areas and Late Night dipping, Scott expects that CAS may analyze student patterns and demands once it finishes Red Jacket renovation.
“The South Side of campus is pretty remote and that entire dining experience is an important part of that first-year experience,” Scott said. “I’m going to go out on a limb and say when we reopen Red Jacket in the fall of 2018, we’re going to see more demand.”
News editor Malachy Dempsey contributed reporting to this article.