Student dining group fights bad reputation

The top student advocate for dining is rebranding his organization as the Student Dining Board, a name change he hopes will help distance his organization from the ineffectual reputation that has dogged the group for the past two years.

The group, formerly called the Student Dining Commission, was renamed this year as part of a campaign to become more recognizable on campus, chair Ben Leighton said. The board has harshly criticized in the past for making little progress on dining complaints.
“The year before I got involved, the only thing they achieved was a microwave for J Street,” Leighton said. He hopes the clearer, less formal name will encourage students to reach out with their dining concerns.

“Our focus with the rebranding is that we’re not the same, ineffective organization that the old Dining Services Commission was, but we’re a new, more efficient, more active student organization,” Leighton said.

The University’s massive overhaul of both its dining program and the J Street venues alleviated many student concerns, he said, so beyond the rebranding efforts, Leighton said he has not set goals for the board. As students find problems with the new system, he said issues would surface.

The group plans to use their accomplishments from last year to help students recognize the group’s ability to enact change in the campus dining experience, he said.

Last year, the group pushed for free refills on fountain drinks, extended breakfast hours, spice racks, cereal and milk stations and daily pasta options, Leighton said. The group also worked with Sodexo to plan the latest changes to J Street but received few accolades from the University for their contributions.

Leighton encouraged students to use the group’s existing Facebook and Twitter accounts to voice their concerns, as well as attend town halls the group will plan.

“Our success is based on notoriety on campus. As our names get bigger, we can have conversations with everyone,” Leighton said.

With a $30,000 budget this year, he also hopes more student organizations will seek Colonial Catering grants, which are funded by Sodexo and allocated by the Student Dining Board. Last year, 67 organizations applied for the grants.

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.