One of my personal favorite debates as a Tech student is discussing which campus department provides the worst services to students. For many people, the frontrunner in this competition in Tech’s Parking and Transportation Services, for giving out frivolous tickets, charging several hundred dollars to park on campus and paving basketball courts to put up additional parking lots. Recently, though, Georgia Tech Dining has made an excellent case for being one of, if not the absolute worst department on campus.
Instead of focusing on providing good food service to students on campus and reducing costs for students to make meals more affordable, Dining has opted to upend their traditional business model in the interest of maximizing their profit without actually making any improvements to their product.
Currently, Dining operates exactly two full service dining halls on campus, both located on East. At either of these locations, students with meal plans can get unlimited food for a single meal swipe. Unfortunately, no full-service dining hall exists on West Campus. Half of all dorms owned by Tech are located on West, leaving a significant portion of the undergraduate body without access to a traditional dining hall. West used to have a dining hall, Woodruff, until it was closed in favor of a ‘dining commons’ which allows students to exchange meal swipes for individual meals at so-called concept restaurants. West Village provides students with exactly $9 per meal swipe. Any and all meal plans which are not the 336-swipe plan cost at least $9.05 per swipe. Every single time a student uses a meal swipe from one of these plans at West Village, they are losing money even if they were able to use all $9 of their allocation. As an added bonus, meal swipes at West Village can only be redeemed for a single order, unlike at either of the dining options located on East.
Woodruff Dining Hall was also open until 2 a.m. on most nights during the week, but at West Village, three of the four concept restaurants close at 10 p.m., with the last one remaining open only until midnight. After midnight, the only places to get food on West are WingZone and Starbucks, neither of which take meal swipes as methods of payment. Students used to be able to spend dining dollars on groceries at the Westside Market, located across from WingZone, but this location was closed so that the space it was using could be converted to conference rooms.
West Village is very plainly designed to extract more money from the pockets of students by providing less food per dollar for food of similar quality.
Dining has shown in their recent actions that their priorities do not lie with Tech and the student body, but their shareholders and bottom line. If Sodexo does not change their focus, then Tech’s administration should seriously reconsider their choice in a food services contractor.