On January 28, 2013, an article I wrote entitled “Staff struggling over slashes in hours, positions” was published in the pages of Arthur.
The article detailed how the management of Aramark Inc., Trent’s foodservice provider at the time, was cutting staffing hours, reducing full time positions, and curtailing shifts in an attempt to reduce labour expenditures.
And now, with the news that the management of Chartwells is choosing to follow that same path (see page three), I am once again reminded of that old adage that what goes around comes back around, and even sooner than you expect.
You see, this is the editorial I was sincerely hoping I would not have to write this year.
After covering the foodservice RFP for the past two years and reporting on all its positive aspects – from the grassroots student activism, to the open forums and consultations, to the rare and refreshing sense that the administration and the student body were finally on the same page – I perhaps naively came to believe that Trent’s foodservice contract with Chartwells was going to represent the start of a giant step forward for this university.
Throughout the lengthy, but thorough, proposals process I kept hearing the same mantra from university administration: that this new contract was going to be a game-changer for Trent; that this university was finally going to get the foodservice it deserves.
That’s why it is such a let down to have to write this piece scarcely three months into the school year and barely six months into the new contract.
From what I have heard from friends and students on campus and now from the stories reported here in this issue, it seems that instead of the foodservice we deserve we got the food service we already had, only with a few shiny new brands and a second Tim Hortons kiosk we didn’t ask for. The provider’s questionable food quality, the mistreatment of its staff, and focus on its bottom line remain the same.
Like most students and alumni of Trent, I have a great deal of respect and admiration for the foodservice staff who are consistently cheerful, personable, and professional in their jobs. Virtually every time I’ve eaten on campus it has been the staff rather than the food that has made my dining experience a pleasant one.
Therefore, to hear that things have gotten worse, not better, for Trent’s foodservice staff under the new contract is incredibly frustrating.
Trent is a great school, with excellent staff, and we deserve a similarly great dining experience.
The new contract was supposed to be a fresh start and a chance to do right by our shared values, principles, and commitments. Right now, however, it just feels like more of the same old, same old.