J Street changes raise the heat at first SA town hall

Tensions ran high last night when close to 50 people turned out for the Student Association’s first town hall meeting in the Marvin Center to discuss the recently revised J Street dinning options.

Representatives from the SA executive, the University, Sodexho and Starbucks responded to fiery questions from behind a table of free food highlighting options from the revamped J Street and under a banner that read “The Student Association Serving Students.”

Approximately 20 members of GW’s Students for Fair Trade, who were unhappy about the removal of the Grounds For Change coffee shops at GW and the “Starbucks monopoly on campus,” sparred with the Starbucks representative, Claire Alschuler. Shortly after, SA leaders stepped in and proposed a meeting with all of the involved parties to address concerns.

Emotions flared again after sophomore Josh Sacks, of the Web site www.FightJStreet.com, picked up some of the free food to use as examples while listing what he considered to be the problems with dining at J Street. SA President Nicole Capp, a junior, asked him to stop and to be more respectful.

“Don’t just stand up and yell at us,” responded a patient Nancy Haaga, director of campus supports services, after listening to Sacks. “Give us a chance to start a dialogue.”

One student questioner joked, “Is it me or is it getting hot in here?” when he got to the microphone.

SA leaders pledged to “continue dialogue” and set up meetings with those who had concerns, including Sacks.

“Now let’s come together and talk,” said Capp at the conclusion of the town hall. “Let’s go.”

With that, she went and talked to those who had presented questions and concerns.

“I think it was spectacular,” said SA Executive Vice President Brand Kroeger, a junior. He said that the SA was committed to furthering the dialogue and facilitating that conversation. He added that the town hall tonight was a “huge step.”

The next town hall is scheduled for September 19 on the topic of freshman involvement and will include Fred Siegel, associate vice president and dean of freshmen.

Check out Hatchet Staff Writer Sarah Scire’s article in Monday’s Hatchet for more reaction to the changes at J Street.

-Andrew Springer

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