When students returned from winter break, they quickly discovered changes to the dining location in Steinman College Center.
In place of Pandini’s, a dining option noted for its unhealthy, fast-food style options and relatively simplistic interior, there was Salsa Rico, a Mexican dining option, and Slice of Life, an artisan pizza and sandwich option.
The changes to the Pandini’s location were inspired by the discontent of the student body when the administration announced it would close Crépes in order to meet budget deficits.
“[This announcement] created a catalyst not only for students to voice their opinions about the crépes but also about the other eating venues,” said Elana Jaret ’12, president of Diplomatic Congress.
In response, the Diplomatic Congress formed a food committee, a summer committee to come up with the necessary changes to the Pandini’s location.
“The College Administration was listening to the students last spring when they requested new healthier and fresh food menu options,” explained Barry Bosley, associate vice president for administration, in relation to the administration’s involvement with the food committee.
The summer committee met with multiple Sodexo representatives from multiple varieties of eating options the company offers. These representatives marketed their various brands to the committee who would be the ones to decide which companies would be best for the College and the student body.
When making their decision, the food committee looked to find a brand that fixed the flaws that were present in the former Pandini’s restaurant.
The first item they wanted to deal with was the redundancy of eating options on campus. All of the options offered at the former Pandini’s location could be found at D-Hall already so it only served to aggravate students with the lack of variety.
“We were looking for a brand that met the F&M lifestyle,” Jaret said. “We were looking for something unique, in terms of not being offered at any of the other venues on campus, and we knew that we wanted to keep the pizza because it was popular and it is a really good ‘grab and go item.’”
The committee was also looking for a better atmosphere for the location. Every restaurant that vied for the location also submitted floor plans and designs to the committee for their consideration.
This process was not only unique in the fact that it brought about change to the formerly limited eating selections on campus, but it also allowed for students, both elected and non-elected leaders, to have more influence and say regarding the decisions of the College’s administration.
“This was the first time the Diplomatic Congress has had a direct voice to the administration,” Jaret said. “It holds the committee accountable to the students instead of just meeting when administration wants to meet. It also gives DipCon a venue to voice our views and creates more influence not only for the Diplomatic Congress but also for non-elected student leaders.”
Bosley confirmed this connection between the Diplomatic Congress and the administration and voiced his hope that students will continue to reach out and continue to be involved in the process.
“My hope is that the students will continue to bring their feedback on these changes and other new ideas to the Student Food Committee or Dip Congress as we work together to continue to improve our food program on campus,” Bosley said.
If you have any questions or would like to contribute input or feedback the Food Committee chair is Evan Tooker, who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.