WSGA VP ‘outraged’ at lack of student opinion in Chartwells contract decision

Amy Billinger

The Board of Regents renewed Washburn’s contract with Chartwells for an astounding ten years during their meeting on March 20, 2009. As a senior who is about to graduate in May, I personally do not have to worry about the ramifications of this decision. Rather, I am concerned for the students at Washburn I’m leaving behind. I cannot count the number of times students have come to me with complaints about the quality of Chartwell’s food, prices, or service. Why were students not a part of this decision?

Students are vigorously opinionated and united when it comes to their impression of Chartwells. The overall sentiment portrays a remarkably dissatisfied student body with the quality of dining services, and rightfully so. The current contract forbids student groups from bringing off-campus food to their meetings or events. Washburn should support its students by allowing greater flexibility rather than forcing student organizations that are operating on low budgets as it is to buy expensive items from Chartwells. I also hear numerous complaints about how the quality of healthy options is limited at best. On top of that, Chartwells is not accommodating when it comes to dietary restrictions. These are just a few of the complaints I hear. As someone who lived on campus for three years, I heard what students said about the cafeteria and it does not paint a flattering picture for Chartwells.

Chartwells cannot claim ignorance on the above stated issues. I, along with other students, have spoken to them directly many times. I do not know exactly what they told the Board of Regents, but somewhere along the line, an unwise decision was made. Furthermore, dining services significantly impacts students, thus, students should have been an important part of the decision-making. At minimum, student government should have been consulted, yet, we were told nothing about this. I am outraged that such a decision was made without student representation.

Amy Billinger,

WSGA Vice President