The executive team at Ship Dining truly works to improve quality of food service as well as continuously responds to student feedback.
The team makes it noticeable and emphasizes that continuous feedback and student opinion defines most of its choices, including food selection, cooking methods, specialty food options and accommodations.
From my own firsthand conversation with Resident District Manager Terri Nahavandi, he remarked that “food is really important, and we know that. We listen to you.”
This continuous listening is evident through the company’s employment of Dining Student Ambassadors, their Text to Chat feedback system, frequent surveys, dining listening sessions, and many student groups that meet with Terri regularly. Their responsiveness is extremely evident and happens quite quickly.
One of the student groups that meets monthly with the heads of all of the dining facilities is the Student Government Association Food Committee. Their most recent meeting minutes on the Sept. 30 meeting noted they would be “bringing back chicken patties in Reisner and in [the] CUB.”
Additionally, 500 steak knives were ordered for the facility as well as sherbet to be added to the ice cream selection for students who are lactose intolerant.
The minutes noted that upon request from the committee, the dining group would be shifting vegetable cooking style away from sautéing toward steaming vegetables.
These are just a few actionable items listed. If you take a walk around Reisner, you will see these changes already in place: Chicken patties, sherbet, berries in the fruit salad, more spices, and a change in cooking styles are already evident. Ship dining clearly takes student feedback as a priority and it responds in-turn.
If only many of the other major administrative departments would value student feedback at the same level. This is not to say that administrative departments like the academic affairs office, facilities and maintenance department, and SUPD do not receive feedback and care about students, but it lies in their lack of intentional student-body wide correspondence.
At President’s Hour on Oct. 1, many of the department heads mentioned committees in which students were on, but their campus-wide feedback is rather small. Committees are great, but a broader way of gathering information is necessary. When each official was asked specifically how they listen to feedback, no group even came close to comparing with Ship Dining’s student feedback systems and proven track record.
However, this does not mean that progress is not being made.
“You are stopping me and talking to me,” remarked Dean of Students Donna Gross, while Social Media Manager Meghan Silverstrim said, “… we really do listen to social media. We do listen and try to hear you in that way.”
The provost office analyzes student course evaluations and the SU Office of Equity, Inclusion, and Compliance conducts a campus climate survey every three to five years. These feedback methods are great, but many students feel they are not being heard enough. Many other departments in the campus administration should take a lesson from Ship Dining.