Colonial Cash, J Street to change

Drastic changes to the Colonial Cash system that require students to spend predetermined amounts at GW eateries will allow the University to finance sweeping changes to J Street.

Nancy Haaga, managing director of Campus Support Services, said the changes to many of J Street’s venues are in response to parent and student concern about a dearth of healthy food options at the University. Forcing students to eat at University venues will ensure financial stability for Sodexho, J Street’s food service provider, Haaga said.

“These changes will allow students to eat what they want in the quantities that they desire,” Haaga wrote in an e-mail. “The move away from brands enables Sodexho to offer more quality, nutritious and appealing food and menu selections that better meet the myriad of student dining preferences.”

Wendy’s and Jamba Juice will remain at J Street, but the University is replacing all other J Street eateries with less brand-oriented venues.

New Marvin Center restaurants will include Pacific Rim, a sushi and pan-Asian restaurant; a GW bagel and pastry shop; a Sodexho dessert venue; a make-your-own sandwich and deli bar; and Little Italy, a new name for Pandini’s. A pay-by-the-pound restaurant and small convenience store will replace J Street Caf?. Chick-Fil-A will become an express location that allows patrons to serve themselves.

“The required Colonial Cash dining dollars . provide the required financial base to support (the changes planned for J Street eateries),” Haaga wrote in an e-mail.

Of the $3,400 freshmen are required to have on their GWorld cards, they must spend at least $1,400 in J Street, WOW Caf? and Wingery, Duques or on Mount Vernon said Francis Murray, director of Dining and Retail Services for the Student Association. Sophomores must spend at least $500 of their required $2,500 GWorld card totals at these same specified locations.

Murray added that the Colonial Cash amounts freshmen and sophomores are required to spend at certain on-campus locations will not roll over from year to year, and instead will expire at the end of the academic year. Colonial Cash dollars not part of this required amount will roll over from year to year, a change from Colonial Cash policy in recent years.

SA President Nicole Capp said Sodexho was clear that it would not support making the proposed eatery changes without some kind of monetary concession. Capp aided administrators in negotiating the changes with Sodexho.

“The required dining meals and money for freshmen and sophomores was not something that the students proposed or that we brought up in discussion. It was something that Sodexho just needed (to be able to) carry out all these changes,” Capp said.

Capp said she hopes students will think highly of the J Street venue changes considering the changes were made based on student opinion.

“This is going to be a good change accompanied by hopefully an engaged student body that wants to eat there. And when you make J Street appealing, they’re not going to mind, I hope, that they need to spend some of their money there,” Capp said.

Student reaction to the J Street and Colonial Cash changes have not all been positive. Luke Duddy, a rising sophomore, created a Facebook group to “protest” the proposed changes. The group has about 120 members.

Instead of forcing students to spend their money in J Street, the University should focus on improving Sodexho’s customer service standards, Duddy said.

“You cannot solve a problem by simply throwing money at it, and you really cannot fix the problem by forcing students to throw their own money at a place that they do not want to,” Duddy wrote on Facebook.

This is not the first time GW changed its dining system. The University adopted a dining system in 1999 that required students to eat during specified windows of time for each meal.

Before the University implemented its Colonial Cash system in 2003, all students living on campus were required to purchase a certain number of points used specifically at on-campus Aramark vendors. At this time, students also had the option of purchasing Debit Dollars that could be used at several on and off-campus locations.

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