Last semester The Hatchet argued that while Colonial Cash has opened up an unprecedented number of new dining options, it is seriously endangering the dining institutions on which students have come to rely. Now the administration is stating that it is looking into independent alternatives to Aramark for the Ivory Towers dining facility, set to open next year. While this arrangement might benefit students in the end, the potential short-term consequences could be devastating.
Aramark has been seriously affected by the increasingly competitive environment. As a result of a drastically lowered revenue draw, Aramark has been forced to consolidate hours and dining options in an effort to remain profitable. This inconvenience is most evident on weekends, when students going to J Street find that many of the most popular venues – such as the Home Zone or Taco Bell – are either closed or operating under drastically reduced hours. And while there is something to be said for increased choice, one cannot discount the convenience J Street has provided GW students.
The University administration made an ill-timed decision to pronounce that Aramark may not fit into the its long-term plan. Because Aramark now knows it is no longer invested in GW’s economic future, it can easily reduce its hours and service to the bare minimum. This would come to the extreme detriment of GW students, who would no longer have a convenient mid-campus dining destination.
For a University that has stressed time and time again that it wishes to foster a greater campus feel, this move is equally baffling. Since J Street will require serious renovations if it transforms into a retail-style establishment, students – forced to eat at establishments on all sides of campus – would no longer use it as a major place to meet friends.
While it is clear that in the longer term such a plan would benefit students, the University must not fail to address the vacuum in service this policy could create. If it does not, students will suffer from a serious lack of convenient food service options in the near future.