Student Association senators have indefinitely postponed a boycott of J Street after two “successful” meetings with Aramark that should lead to changes in some venues.
Ryan DeMerlis (ESIA-U) and Tim Saccoccia (CCAS-U) co-sponsored a Student Advancement Day bill last month that called for students to meet with Aramark and University officials to discuss inadequacies with GW’s main dining provider. If no progress was made with administrators and the Marvin Center’s food service provider, the bill called for a March 7 boycott of the food court.
After the latest meeting Wednesday, DeMerlis said the SA will re-evaluate the need for a boycott after spring break.
“Our primary concern is to continue dialogue between students and University and Aramark officials,” DeMerlis said. “We want to be a venue to voice student concerns and offer practical solutions.”
DeMerlis said that since he began discussion with Aramark, J Street has improved its service. In response to complaints about short hours of operation, Wendy’s and Subway plan to extend their hours of operation to 11 p.m. within the next couple of weeks. A new “express” line at District Market will also be opening shortly.
In addition, dining officials promised to post J Street hours in more visible locations and work to ensure that venues stay open until the stated closing time.
DeMerlis said University officials are also looking into replacing the District Market Express on the Marvin Center’s first floor with a new hot/cold eatery.
Christine Fisher, assistant director of University Contract Services, said GW had a “very productive meeting” Wednesday afternoon with DeMerlis and Saccoccia, and added that she hopes a boycott can be averted now that the doors of communication are open.
“Some of the suggestions are more long-term goals that we can work with students to improve our service for next fall,” Fisher said.
She added not all of the requests students have put out are reasonable, but the criticisms of the service are “fair.”
“It is a matter of what Aramark can do in their operations,” she said.
While DeMerlis said most of the discussions are going well, one issue some senators are still not happy with is Colonial Catering, the sole food provider to groups hosting Marvin Center events.
“Both the pricing of the catering and the monopoly Colonial Catering has over catering services on campus is not worth what you get as a product and unfair for low-budget student organizations” DeMerlis said.
Saccoccia said he and DeMerlis will be tabling outside of the Marvin Center on Monday to talk with students about Student Advancement Day and get more suggestions of improvements the University can make to J Street.
DeMerlis said it would have been irresponsible to boycott J Street on the planned March 7 date.
“We’re not saying a boycott is out of the question,” DeMerlis said. “A boycott would really undermine the progress we have made so far in the negotiations and that would be disrespectful to the people we’ve been working with.”