Senate Beat: Salt Bagels Gone for Good

No appointments were made this week. Instead, President Pax Lloyd-Burchett listed the contents of Senate’s Shit Palace:

60 boomboxes, 3 minifridges, “all the tarps,” a box of laser tag guns, 14 suitcases, Beer Nation space heaters, 2 fake Christmas trees, empty kegs, and more…

This week’s Senate was dedicated to an open forum on Commons, the first of many themed fora, with Bon Appetit management present to field questions from students. Attending Commons staff included general manager Matt Talavera, along with Commons management, its various executive chefs, and Rob Tust of the Business Office to answer questions about the board plans. According to Talavera, Commons was present to help the student body put faces to Commons management, emphasizing that students were free to talk to management at any time. Below is an overview of questions asked by students, along with responses from Commons staff. Senate discussed other non-Commons business at the meeting as well, which is summarized at the end.

Salt bagels. Are dead. Permanently removed from Commons by acclamation, as confirmed by administrators, Commons staff, and students present at Senate.

Use of pronouns. Talavera began the forum by touching on a grievance raised by many students — misuse of pronouns by Commons staff. He stated that these incidents were “not out of disrespect,” and that he was doing his best to “remedy” the situation by organizing staff trainings. Senator Keegan Samaniego has volunteered to work with Commons management to help organize trans-friendly trainings.

Dietary restrictions. Senator Jonathan Lederman asked, following discussions with Residence Life, whether Commons could offer more to students with extreme dietary restrictions. Could the Marketplace, for example, offer uncooked options, and a broader range of groceries? Talavera noted in response that the Marketplace did offer groceries like vegetables on an ad-hoc basis, but currently could not advertise groceries consistently. He would, though, ask the student body what groceries Marketplace should consistently advertise in a survey later this week.

Samaniego asked after kosher options as well, to which Matt Talavera listed various obstacles that he had encountered: kosher food could not be prepared in Commons, but had to be ordered precooked long in advance. Previously for Passover, for example, Commons had tried to source kosher food, but could not source enough in time.

Board plans, and purchasing at Commons. Vice President Izzy Hoff raised concerns about the low ratio between board plan costs and actual spendable dollars. In response, Rob Tust, representing the Business Office, said that a great deal of board plan money was actually spent on a “base” fee covering Commons administration and maintenance. The cost of this “base” fee could not be shifted to Commuter Cash users, he added, since they represented a small percentage, about 10%, of Commons revenue.

Separately, Lloyd-Burchett asked whether Commons could accept SNAP/EBT funds. Talavera replied that he currently had “no good answer” to how Commons would do so, but would look into this further by investigating whether or not other colleges did so.

After-hours and weekend options. Multiple senators asked whether late-night Commons could offer more options, citing scheduling and opportunities to use board point alongside other concerns. Matt Talavera quickly responded, noting that he would ask the student body about Commons hours in an email survey later this week. More specifically, Samaniego asked whether the Marketplace could hold later hours. Talavera similarly replied that Commons management had discussed this, but any changes would involve rearranging staff schedules and would only take effect in the fall.

Noting that the primary options available were the grill and pizza, Senator Alisa Chen also asked whether healthier options in particular could be offered. Talavera, in response, said that the salad bar had been removed from late-night Commons due to lack of interest. Nevertheless, he said they would investigate offering grab-and-go salads, and other healthier options. A student suggested that the DIY section could also be offered after hours.

Commons catering for student groups. Samaniego noted that Commons catering was usually priced out of the reach of student groups, and asked whether Commons could offer cheaper alternatives for student groups. Talavera replied by saying that Commons could offer catering options for any budget, and frequently did so on request of faculty and staff.

Other news. Senator Aislin Steill noted that Legislative Committee will meet Monday, March 4, to plan an upcoming staff meeting on the Restorative Justice Coalition’s proposals. They separately plan to discuss revisions to the J-Board Code. Chen, speaking on behalf of Mural Committee, said that they had plans to replace the mural across the food pantry by spring break.

Sustainability Coordinator Hayden Hendersen of Greenboard asked whether Finance Committee could systematically record rationales behind their allocations. In particular, they were interested in seeing whether budgeting choices could be made more sustainable. Assistant Treasurer Salma Huque responded by noting that rationales were confidential, although Treasury could always be contacted privately by email. Broadly, though, she added that Treasury controlled spending by looking at the semester’s budget and appealing to precedent. Nevertheless, Finance Committee is unable to dictate what groups spend money on. Finally, Senator Isabelle Hoff added whether items in student body storage, lovingly named Shit Palace, could be aggressively reused by student groups, cataloguing it if required. Ball organizers, for example, could reuse decorations, and return newly-bought decorations to the student body.

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