Student Senate discusses changes to OU
Gwyn Scott, associate vice president of Auxiliaries, and Rich Neumann, director of Residential Dining of Culinary Services, gave an informational presentation, highlighting some of the changes happenings within the department. Neumann noted that OU is one of the nation’s largest dining services, and has been rated one of the most efficient for the eleventh year in a row.
Culinary Services serves 3.8 million meals annually, operating from 17 venues and is currently the largest employer of OU students, with approximately 1,300 students working for dining services. The department prides itself on a number of different successful programs, including internships and a student leadership program that has been nationally recognized, according to Neumann.
After the success of the Shiveley Court renovations in early 2010, Culinary Services has taken to improving other facilities that it operates, namely the Central Food Facility and Nelson Dining Hall. Since neither building has been renovated for a number of decades, dining services has made it their mission to improve the efficiency of food services, providing students with consistency and convenience.
“We are taking a phrased approach”, said Scott. An improved Central Food Facility “provides an opportunity for centralized production, which reduces cost.” The updated machinery and assembly area will feature a “cook-chill” facility, as well as utilizing more local products. OU already uses a large variety of locally grown produce from the Chesterhill Produce Auction, as well as emphasis on from-scratch baking with local ingredients. Touring of the facility will open during finals week of Winter Quarter.
Next on the itinerary is Nelson Dining Hall. Starting Spring Quarter, Nelson will be closed. To compensate the loss of a dining hall, Shiveley Court will be extending its hours to include three meals a day, as well as being open on weekends. Nelson Grab ’N Go and Market services will remain open until summer.
Nelson will reopen its doors at the start of the next school year, complete with extended seating, a new entrance and food court style meals, which include Mediterranean, Asian, barbeque and a large salad buffet. There will also be a café with China service and possibly gelato.
Scott said that Culinary Services is “committed to the residential experience.”
“You spoke, we listen,” she said. As for cost, students should expect a slight increase for meal plans. “We are doing things to reduce the cost,” said Scott, “but we also have to address whether it’s energy costs, fuel costs, utility costs.” Culinary Services recently suggested a 1.5 percent increase to the Budget Planning Council, but the Board of Trustees has approved nothing yet.
Graduate Student and Transportation Services Manager for Athens Transit, Michael Lachman presented an Athens Area Transit Initiative in which he proposed “a single coordinated bus system that serves both the campus and the community.”
Currently, Athens has five transit systems: Athens Transit, Cat Shuttle and transits traveling to the Summit, Courtyard and University Commons. All have similar routes but no coordinated connection times. Lachman also cited the current bus systems as having complicated fairs and access routes, where major times and areas are unserved or under served.
With Lachman’s proposed system, no ID or fare would be required, improving efficiency, with more direct city service with evening and weekend hours, making the bus schedule more frequent. The new system would include an expressway, a normal fixed route and on-demand dial-up buses. This system makes many improvements, Lachman argues, including higher capacity, more comfort, stops and shelters in more visible places and more accessibility for students with disabilities.
Lachman also proposed, along with the new transit system, an improved method of getting transit information to students and community members; he suggested a notification system, real-time bus tracking, multilanguage signage and pocket maps with detailed information on the Americans With Disabilities Act.
The benefits of such a system will have the potential to benefit the local economy with expanded job access and shopping, reaching businesses during the evening and weekend hours. The system would also benefit community safety, college affordability and sustainability.
“Over the lifetime of a campus and community what you get is a greener and more sustainable environment,” said Lachman. “A unified system would save a ton of energy.”
In order to sustain such a system, Lachman suggested a mandatory student transit fee of $12 to $20 per year, generating $528,000 to $1 million in funding. Federal funding would also make up about 80 percent of the budget, which would operate on an estimated $1.2 to $1.7 million.
The mandatory fee for students would provide leverage for federal funding, said Lachman. He also noted that OU students make up about 75 to 85 percent of “ridership,” making students the most important interest group – a “sleeping giant.” Lachman ended by saying a new transit system could be the Senate’s 2012 legacy.
Also presented during the meeting was a proposed resolution in opposition to House Bill 256, which, if passed, would extend Ohio’s open carry laws of firearms onto college campuses. Any person possessing a gun permit would be able to carry concealed handguns into college facilities, including dormitories. The bill is still “in committee” but is currently sponsored by Republican Rep. John Adams.
“Current [Ohio] law makes it easy to get a gun, this law makes it even easier,” said State and Federal Affairs commissioner Taylor Abbott. “I am very much pro-gun, [but] not on campus.”
“We want to make it very clear that we don’t want guns on our campus,” said Abbott. Abbott’s proposed resolution would call Representative Adams to withdraw HB 256.
Other mentions during Senate’s meeting was the recent addition of OUPD and Safety Patrol contact information will be put on the back of student ID’s, starting as early as Spring Quarter. President Kyle Triplett carried the measure as part of Student Senate’s Lifelines for Safety campaign.
President Triplett said the addition is “a very big step for proactive safety on campus.”