Sodexo, Brandeis University’s food provider, does not always deserve the criticism it constantly receives. There are definitely ways for the service to improve, but lost in the complaints are events that engage the campus and attempt to bring the community together through food. Through themed events and other special promotions, Brandeis and Sodexo are able to provide a dynamic dining experience that, while at times unpredictable, can provide welcome change and enjoyment to a stressed student body.
The college experience can be characterized by a roller coaster of stress and frustration, and all of our campus services attempt to make that experience easier. Brandeis Dining Services is no different. For those interested, it provides food, drink and in the dining halls, a social space to unwind and destress. Alas, the same options every day may make for a stale distraction that is decreasingly able to serve in its ability to alleviate the stresses of everyday life.
Enter dining hall events: Sodexo’s most interesting and yet lesser known programs. They serve to change up what can be a bland daily food cycle in Sherman and in Usdan as well as to provide a welcome diversion from daily life: something (however minor) to look forward to. After all, a simple distraction that could be a dining hall event may serve to better someone’s day.
Last semester, for example, Sodexo brought in university chefs from all around the Boston area to compete in a local cook-off, where Brandeis students were able to have a variety of different foods while at the same time enjoying a friendly competition. Such events are common in Brandeis’ dining halls, but they do not always receive the recognition they deserve, or the marketing they need.
On March 2, a few of my friends and I gathered to celebrate a birthday in Sherman, where we had made reservations in advance for its “Stone Steakhouse Elite Event.” The food was excellent and it only cost $6 extra in points to boot, but yet not very many students seemed aware of or interested in the event.
Why is it that such events go unnoticed? Much like with other campus problems, a lack of communication, causing a sort of apathy, is to blame. Without proper channels of communication, news of elections, campus events and Dining Services’ initiatives will continue to go under noticed and deserved recognition not given. In terms of promoting campus awareness for activities like dining hall events, a simple uptick in communication and outreach will go a long way.
In order to increase awareness of dining hall events and campus events in general, there needs to be a greater advertising presence on campus. There were notices for the March 2 steak event in the dining halls, but not in many other locations. Students spend most of their time in academic buildings, campus/student centers, the library and in the residence halls. These would be the most ideal locations to increase awareness. I do not advocate the wasting of paper resources to disturb the beauty of these areas and destroy the environment in the process. University services can still better its advertising presence through strategic placement and maintain a commitment to paper conservation. There is no reason why campus announcement boards cannot be in more visible locations and why some of them go unupdated for long periods of time. The proper utilization of these amenities will go a long way toward promoting awareness.
Another way to promote awareness is through campus email, which is a completely environmentally friendly way to increase communication. It is plausible that due to the sheer volume of emails sent and received that there exists a lack of interest in campus email, which can logically explain the problems with turnout in recent Student Union elections. However, students still check email for classes and for important developments. Framing campus event announcements in an easy to view and user friendly way may help resist the problems that the university faces with email apathy.
The general apathy for campus functions makes it so that they go underappreciated and in some cases unnoticed. Many of these events are programmed for the benefit of the students: to destress, to provide a relaxing social environment and to—in rough terms—provide a distraction from the tumult of everyday life.
Services like Brandeis Dining that receive a lot of criticism from community members tend not to garner the same level of attention for their positive aspects, such as its brand of programming geared towards student enjoyment. Perhaps through a widening and better utilization of campus communication channels, many of the problems characterized by apathy and a lack of prior knowledge—like with Student Union elections and with subpar event attendance—will become solvable.