Staff Editorial: Dining disservice

J Street managers say they are not aware of students’ complaints regarding rude behavior by staff members. Perhaps students are complaining more to their friends than to managers, but the more important problems are the lack of quality service at GW’s main dining facilities and the apparent ignorance of supervisors. Something must change. Either dining service employees must improve their attitudes and treatment of students, or the University should seek a new contractor as soon as possible.

Dining Services, which is run by contractor Aramark, has taken steps to shorten the amount of time students wait in line. But little evidence exists that those measures – including adding staff during peak hours, offering pre-prepared meals and better trained employees – have improved the situation. What is clear, however, is that without an emphasis on customer service, improvements in wait times are meaningless. No matter how quickly students receive their sandwiches, if employees scream at students, treat them with disrespect or generally express an attitude of unwillingness to help, the system will be seen as fundamentally flawed.

Too often students waiting in long lines witness employees walking away from their stations for whatever reason. In many cases, this desertion leaves a single person to take orders, prepare food and ring up customers. Obviously such a situation slows a system that moves, under the most favorable of circumstances, at a leisurely pace. With better supervision, the number of spontaneous absences could be dramatically reduced. Rarely when a manager is assisting at a station or patrolling the floor do employees simply disappear from their assignments. In fact, many students recognize marked improvement in speed and service when managers are present. Placing a manager at every station is probably not feasible, but something drastic must be done for upper-level supervisors to make their presence felt.

While problems do plague food service at GW, some blame should be borne by students who treat J Street employees disrespectfully. Such behavior is unacceptable on both sides of the counter. Additionally, when students do have a complaint, they should seek out a manager or at least send an e-mail detailing the incident to eat@gwu.edu, an online hotline for registering dining services-related complaints. But the bottom line is that managers must become more involved in observing employees’ behavior toward students and ending instances of rudeness toward customers.

Students are tired of excuses. If J Street management cannot answer student complaints, GW has no other option than dump Aramark and find a better contractor.

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