The University’s food service provider, Sodexo, is ramping up security at J Street in response to recent thefts in the Marvin Center facility.
Sodexo has told its managers “to make their presence known,” said Sam Ramos, Sodexo director of operations at GW. This security increase comes on the heels of catching numerous students stealing from different venues in J Street, ranging from pocketing water bottles and snacks to trying to walk off without paying for larger meals.
Sodexo does not have any figures available that track the amount that has been taken or how many students have been caught, since Ramos said they do not see themselves in a police role.
“We are not looking to beat up students,” Ramos said. “We just want to stop the shoplifting.”
Though Ramos said he catches students almost every day, he said it is always difficult to deal with students when they get mad.
“I had a student start cussing out my manager. The manager then called me over and the student started yelling at me too,” Ramos said. “I wanted to say to him, ‘You’re the one stealing.’ “
The current design of J Street, with multiple checkout areas, was designed to help students quickly exit the dining area, but the open design is now being used to sneak by cashiers.
“What we tried to do was for speed and flexibility,” Ramos said of the setup. “Now we are just seeing students taking advantage of that.”
Several students interviewed remarked on the relative ease of stealing items from J Street, due to the lack of surveillance.
One student speaking under the condition of anonymity said he steals from J Street to protest what he sees as an inefficient system.
“Sodexo already has the money from every student so they have no incentive to be efficient,” the sophomore said, referring to the mandatory J Street spending plan. “This system is imposed on us by the University.”
Currently, any student caught stealing is given a verbal warning, but Ramos said if the trend continues they may begin calling UPD to enforce the rules.