Swipe or no swiping: What is happening at 1851?

By Katie Peters & Casey DiBariArts Editor & Opinion Editor

Students wait in long line to order food from the 1851 late-night option. Photo by Katie Peters.

When students returned this September, they were met with a surprise when they arrived at The 1851 Grill to get their late-night dinner. Instead of the usual meal swipe for anything on the menu under $7.99, students learned that was only an option for five items; everything else they had to pay for with dining dollars.

The sudden change, according toDirector of Dining Services Michael Quackenbush, was to alleviate some of the time students spent standing around and waiting for food. “By streamlining the menu to the top five favorites from the previous year, our team was able to produce made-to-order items more efficiently and quickly,” Quackenbush said.

However, according to the Student Government Association (SGA) President senior Jimmy Kappatos, the wait time may not have truly been an issue for the students. Following the change of meal swipes to dining dollars, SGA sent a survey to students to gauge how they felt about the change, and whether or not the wait time bothered them.

Kappatos brought the idea of SGA starting an investigation into the meal swipes after he, along with students who came to him, were disappointed in the new system. “I heard a lot of frustrated students,” says Kappatos, “but also other members of my organization expressing their concerns about the meal swipes.”

A total of 424 students completed this survey when it was sent out on Oct. 2. The results showed a very high dissatisfaction rate with the meal swipe equivalencies at the beginning of the year. When students were asked if they were satisfied with the wait times, 82 percent said they were satis-ed or neutral, leaving only 18 percent of the responses being dissatisfied.

Some students added on, saying they were upset seeing the sudden change at 1851. “I’m very frustrated about it,” junior Aster Kallman said. “I live by Arnow, and one of the big things I was excited about was getting to have dinner here…but now that you only have [five] options, it really limits you.”

Kallman was not the only student who was unhappy. “I feel like it just limited the amount of food we had,” said senior Kendall Allerton, who compared the five-item system to the way Boomers operated. “I was really disappointed.”

Following the survey, Kappatos set up meetings with Quackenbush and Diane Parker to discuss student concerns. As of this month, because of the results of the survey, 1851 reverted back to the old system of paying with a meal swipe. This change only lasts a month long. “We’ll be evaluating the program through the semester to make any adjustments as needed,” Quackenbush said.

When it came to informing students of the initial change in September,  Quackenbush admits on their end, Dining Services could have done it better.“We did a poor job of communicating the changes in advance. We relied on our associates to communicate the changes. It was not clear to most students as to what the new program was,” he said.

There was no formal announcement made to students when the meal swipe equivalency was changed to its original system. Kappatos said he has “been working with the dining hall to try and get some form of language out there to make a formal announcement of everything.”

When the one month trial of this system expires, another survey will be sent to students about their satisfaction levels. Kappatos says SGA “really want[s] to use that data to make an announcement.”


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