By Dalton Valette
Over the summer, Drew worked with Aramark, the campus dining provider, in a $5 million deal to renew the company’s contract while also gutting and renovating the Commons. The old Commons had been much maligned by students and faculty alike so the unveiling of the new, renovated Commons was met with great fanfare. Now that the dust has settled, does ‘Errormark’ make right? The consensus seems to be a resounding, eh?
A poll conducted by The Drew Acorn with 100 participants found that while students were overall satisfied with the current Commons (55 percent found it very satisfying, 25 percent were neutral, and 20 percent found it not very satisfying to disappointing) participants were overall divided on what they liked and what they didn’t like.
“The Commons is like a nasty girl with a makeover,” one participant said. “You can make her look all pretty, but deep down she’s still ugly.”
There was a feeling that some of the biggest changes in the Commons have actually caused a multitude of problems with chief among them being the slashing of self serve sections. Over two dozen students complained that was one of, if not their biggest, complaint with the new Commons.
“Now because there’s no self service, the lines are super long,” one said.
“The two entree sections can get a bit crowded and if you only want one (entree) you end up waiting on a line that’s not even for what you want,” another participant wrote.
“The lines are incredibly long, sometimes staff on break take a long time to serve food,” a participant detailed.
Speaking on behalf of himself and Odir Packeko, Food Service Director, Dean of Students Frank Merckx said, “Students have been great in providing both positive and constructive feedback on the design, implementation, usage and food options. Students are overwhelmingly praising both the space and the menu. Students have been great in sharing what they would like to see added to the menu, and we are implementing them as they come in.”
However, students still saw rooms of improvement. Other complaints saw the excessive number of tables which make navigating the actual floor of the Commons difficult. Students have said that it feels “cluttered” and that “walking around is like a puzzle!” As well, there were frequent complaints about the staff with one student writing, “There’s just a bad attitude with several different people.” But the complaints all funneled back to the initial problems that has plagued the Commons for years–the food.
Sixty two percent of students said they have seen no change in the food quality and 20 percent have said they have been disappointed in the food. Numerous students wrote that the variety of the food was still a problem with items being re-listed frequently while other complaints saw a lack in vegetarian and vegan options.
“The new plates and cups and the dessert and the thing that takes out plates are the best (changes), every other change I really don’t like. There aren’t that many options as they say, I won’t get my own food, I have no idea what station is which, there is no hot chocolate anymore, and also the food isn’t even better, it’s just aesthetic,” a different participat in the poll said.
“The vegan/vegetarian options are sparse, and there’s very blatant cross-contamination,” one Drewid said.
“The food still just isn’t great,” another said.
The greatest consensus was in students hopes for the future. When asked if the Commons still has room for improvement, 88 percent of students said yes.
The Commons it seems may have taken a step in the right direction by addressing some changes with the design and the aesthetics of the establishment, but more can be done.
Merckx said, “We will continually introduce menu enhancements and changes.” Renovations in the Commons will continue with the opening of a new entrance scheduled for January and additional furniture on the first floor.