The Duke University Student Dining Advisory Committee met Monday night to address student dining concerns prompted by recent changes on campus.
DUSDAC, a student group that works to bridge the gap between Dining Services and students, laid out goals for the year to improve the student dining experience. The group discussed issues with the freshman meal plan as well as food truck availability and proposed increased communication with the student body, among other topics.
“I feel like there are so many things about Duke Dining that are shrouded in mystery, which we want to bring to light,” said senior Chris Taylor, the co-chair of DUSDAC. “Obviously, the system between the administration and the students will break down at times, so we step in and facilitate communication between the two groups.”
Taylor brought up the dining challenges raised by the loss of the West Union Building during its renovation, and the group discussed increasing the availability and diversity of food trucks as a possible solution. He added that DUSDAC will explore food truck offerings for lunch time.
The committee brought other suggestions to the table aimed at raising student awareness of dining options and increasing their participation in the dining experience. Potential plans include launching a Twitter account for the Red Mango so it can release the daily flavors, the introduction of halal food as advocated by the Duke Muslim Student Association, an expansion of vegetarian and gluten-free options in the Marketplace and a future Orientation Week information session for incoming freshmen on how to navigate Duke dining.
New member Nicole Kozlak, a freshman, voiced concern about the freshman meal plan.
“I know a lot of freshmen I’ve been talking to are frustrated with how much money is going to waste with the current dining plan, since a lot of people are missing out on swipes or equivalency money,” Kozlak said.
Robert Coffey, director of dining services, said dining options have been expanded—breakfast is now being served at the Food Factory at Devil’s Bistro on Central Campus.
“We’re really excited that breakfast at the Food Factory is now open and growing everyday, and we’re trying to make this successful with new options like grab ‘n’ go and hot sandwiches,” Coffey said.
Lastly, Taylor said that DUSDAC this year will aim to increase partnerships with student organizations, such as Duke Student Government, to provide students with various outlets to express concerns and opinions. He added that DUSDAC will also look to foster awareness about the many lesser-known dining options that take food points, such as the Nasher Museum Cafe and the Freeman Center.
Fix My Campus, a Facebook page that allows students to submit suggestions for campus improvement, has become an increasingly popular resource for students. DUSDAC keeps close tabs on student concerns from this page, Taylor said, as it is a good indicator of the general student body opinion.
“We recognize that we can’t have a hundred different food stations, and we can’t please everyone, being such a diverse community of students, but we’re going to do our best to work things out,” Taylor said as a closing statement to the meeting.