Gazebo, Bag Lunch Survey, and Meal Plans

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

Gazebo on Campus

After negotiations with the Engineering Department met a dead-end, Victor Brady ’13, Campus Life Representative, and Ben Hattem ’12, Financial Policy Representative, met with Stu Hain, Vice President for Facilities and Services, on Friday to discuss other options for building the Gazebo.

As one option, StuCo and Hain are contemplating hiring the services of the Pittsburgh-based—a “reputable organization” according to Brady—for the installation of the gazebo on campus.

Hain raised concerns about the durability of such an edifice considering the heavy usage that would occur with a campus population of approximately 1500 students. Moreover, Hain emphasized that any agreement with such a business would have to include a lifetime guarantee.

Bagged Lunch Survey

Based on results of the bagged lunch survey conducted two weeks ago, Dining Services will be piloting a vegan bean dish on Thursday instead of the vegan hummus option.

Those who often or sometimes took the vegan bagged lunch reported greater dissatisfaction with their Tuesday and Thursday meals in the survey.

Dining Services would like to hear feedback from students regarding the new bean dish and would appreciate comments on this Gazette article to gauge student opinion on the change.

Meal Plan Flexibility

A student’s suggestion of an ‘opt-in’ meal system, in which each student’s unused meals every week get donated to groups that require the food donations, was held to be financially unviable by Dining Services. This is because the budget for Dining Services is largely based on the number of students’ unused meals per week.

Furthermore, Dining Services neither have the accounting capacity nor the technology necessary to accommodate this the plan.

New StuCo Website

StuCo is launching a new website next week that incorporates all their various strands of work in one location.

Details on StuCo’s short-term and long-term goals, the weekly meeting minutes, the resource guide for students, and new initiatives will be available.

StuCo plans to have it linked to the Dash next week.

Email Policy

StuCo has completed initial rounds of discussion for formulating an email policy for groups on campus.

Members mooted the possibility of including the extent of access to the student-body emails on each group’s charter and then, if necessary, going over unique requests on a case-to-case basis. Access will be granted if groups need the emails on a consistent basis for a valid reason.

Thus, StuCo may collaborate with the Chartering Committee in order to implement an email policy for student groups.

StuCo members added that any possible emails would have to affect the entire student body and be endorsed by StuCo.

Ville Meal Points

After Brady and Hattem met with Sue Welsh, Vice President for Finance and Treasurer, it was decided that, in light of all the logistical difficulties, a Ville meal points program was not worth the expenditure.

It would be very costly for Dining Services in the initial years and would result in staff redundancies.

It was agreed that the proposal is a symptom of student dissatisfaction with the quality of food on campus, rather than a willingness to expand the program to the Ville.

Smaller-scale alternatives are still being debated, like the possibility of transferring meal points to a separate meal card, which can then be used like a debit card for buying goods from businesses in the Ville.

Academic Support

Instead of bringing a three-person panel to discuss course diversity, StuCo has decided to extend a sole invitation to Gary Okihiro, a scholar of Ethic Studies, with the intent of discussing whether Swarthmore should introduce an Ethnic Studies department.

A date for the talk has been tentatively set in mid-April.

19 thoughts on “Gazebo, Bag Lunch Survey, and Meal Plans

  • April 4, 2011 at 6:40 am

    This quote from Friday's DG perfectly describes the progress of the ville meal points plan:
    “We’ve settled on making the long term goals flexible, in a sense, amorphous, so that when our long term vision changes, which it probably will, the goals can change with it.”

    Also, I love it when StuCo decides to disregard the results of the surveys they insist on sending to us. It's nice to know that they can more properly interpret what our votes "really" express. Personally, I know I certainly didn't want the option of slightly more authentic Chinese food or of obtaining real food past 10 pm on a weekend.

    There was actually more progress reported in the April Fools' edition of the StuCo report. A giant footrest would be way cooler than a never-going-to-happen gazebo, never-going-to happen ville meal points system, and a bad email policy.
    Literally, the only thing that happened was that vegans got beans.

  • April 4, 2011 at 8:52 am

    OK. Let's unpack the information about the inability to make the "flexibility in the meal plan."

    The first thing to examine is the claim that
    "accounting capacity" is unavailable. Yet, we seem to be able to donate meals at to different groups as it currently stands. Furthermore, it is quite clear that dining services knows how many meals are unused at the end of the week. As such, it stands to reason that they would be able to figure this one out.
    "Nor the technology necessary to accommodate this the plan." By this logic there is simply no way that the computer / card readers are actually using our cards to deduct meals from an account. Perhaps we just hire lots of people to swipe cards to fool everyone into thinking that swiping for a meal is removing meals from a set for the week.

    "was held to be financially unviable by Dining Services. This is because the budget for Dining Services is largely based on the number of students’ unused meals per week." Here is my calculation on what this means. I apologize if my calculations are off. In fact, I would encourage any accurate correction needed. Board for 2010-2011 was $5,800. Assuming eating for 17 weeks in the semester for two semesters this works out to 587 meals for the average 17 meal plan. This works out to ~$9.89 a meal. Alternatively this is $168.13 per week for 17 meals. Now, in an average week I personally don't make it to all 17 meals. Usually I make it to 14-16. So that means that I pay ~$10-30 extra a week and dining services only gets about $140 a week to provide meals. today, I ate a $9.89 breakfast today. I eat more than the average Swatty so I had about a cup of 3 eggs, two hash brown triangles, and a piece of toast.

    I strongly support the living wage we pay to employees.
    I am in favor of having one main dining hall on campus.
    I love the community I share in Sharples.
    Hell, I even like a fair proportion of the food (although I got my gripes like everyone else).

    What I don't get is why there is what I am paying for in the unused meals / stolen cash from Dining services.

    Please correct any incorrect information because it will make me happier with situation and I yearn to be properly educated.

  • April 4, 2011 at 8:54 am

    oops, self correction – "dining services only gets about $140 a week to provide meals" that is to say that dining services still gets $168 a week but I only utilize $140 a week

  • April 4, 2011 at 8:57 am

    Um, can we can the Gazebo idea? Because I think it sounds lame. Like, seriously guys, who decided that was a good idea? Did we vote on that? Are we really going to get something installed at swarthmore from a "gazebo designing wizard" from some random website? Why don't you just go hang out in the amphitheater? I would support this idea if it already had funding, or if, like, an engineering student had already designed a really cool (MAYBE A TINY BIT UNIQUE??) gazebo and wanted to put it up on campus…but this seems pretty dumb. I really hope it gets stuck in red tape forever. Because I hate this idea!

  • April 4, 2011 at 9:45 am

    Oh wow, I can see this email thing going really wrong, really fast. I already get way too many emails, and usually at least they're things that I signed up for/marginally care about.

    How will StuCo determine what emails affect the entire student body? If it's a campus-wide event, is that enough? What if it's a cause that the group thinks the entire student body should care about (last year's Earthlust, I'm looking at you)? Ultimately, is this just going to come down to a StuCo judgment call about which emails are important enough, and won't that just privilege groups that StuCo values more?

    Maybe StuCo has a brilliant plan about how this is going to work that they just haven't shared with the class, but even then I don't see the point. We have Reserved Students, Weekend Events, posters, chalking, and tabling, all of which reach the entire student body. If the argument is that they don't work, why do they exist? And if they do work, why are you spamming my inbox instead of making use of the many campus fora available to you?

  • April 4, 2011 at 10:08 am


    The point (which you may already understand?) is that Dining Services relies on all of the money they take in, regardless of how they choose to break up the meal plan. Some sort of plan to allow people to "donate" their meals will effectively just be taking money away from Dining Services.

  • April 4, 2011 at 10:51 am

    @ peter
    Yes, good point. I guess my issue with breaking it down is just to say that I think we pay a lot for what we get. Also, because it is broken down by meal and I am permitted to only eat a certain number of meals a weak and I must pay for meals I do not eat I the system automatically frames the financial cost in a meal by meal breakdown.

    It is more that I really want to know where all the money goes and not just in vague terms. I don't feel like the not-insignificant amount of money is spent well and I don't like that the model is based upon charging us for every meal in the week and assuming that they won't have to provide every meal of the week. I mean, if the system collapses if we all actually go to all the meals we pay for then it is a very strange system indeed.

  • April 4, 2011 at 10:59 am

    Here is a question I have for the gazebo proposal that I would love Stu Co to answer. What size gazebo are we talking about here? Is it going to be a really large space with benches and room for tables and things in the middle or is it going to be a small one that can seat 6-8 people? I can see a big one as being fun but if it is a small one then it is just going to be strange.

    Another question is about weather. When the weather is nice enough to be outside working/playing/napping etc, people tend to hang out on Parish beach in the chairs or just lounging on the grass. The gazebo seems like an expensive alternative to the grass.
    If we want to improve outside spaces perhaps we could spend half the money for the gazebo on picnic tables for behind Sharples… They would even kill less grass than a gazebo so might be acceptable to facilities concerns.

  • April 4, 2011 at 12:12 pm

    I too, along with everyone I have spoken to, am confounded by the gazebo idea. I would love it if someone could justify it to me, because as it is I see an initiative that is by no means necessary, that will take up Stuco's valuable time in discussing, and that will cost a lot of money. As someone who has been told by the administration under sundry contexts that there is not enough money for things that seem well-supported and needed, it baffles me that something this trivial is getting so much attention. Perhaps there is widespread student support for it, but I certainly haven't seen it, and I haven't heard a good reason for its construction besides that it would be a cool place to hang out, and we have a lot of those on campus already. Is it to attract prospective students or make the college look cool? That is the only possible reason I can think of, and I think it would be a silly one with which to justify this project. Please speak up if you have other reasons to support this project, because I just haven't heard any (reasons or support).

  • April 4, 2011 at 1:15 pm

    Ditto what annoyed said. It seems like a system that will either privilege certain groups or result in serious email overload.

    Here's what I'd like to see: an opt-out announcements email list for things like GreenMarch, the blood drive, and student group announcements. The regular all-campus list would be reserved for housing and registrar updates, as well as emergencies. Anyone abusing the all-campus list loses access for a week/month (regardless of station).

    Oh wait—that already exists. We call it the RSD. Why can't all of this be confined to the RSD anyway which does (more or less) what I detailed above?

  • April 4, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    Has Swarthmore ever thought about inviting commercial businesses, such as Subway or Jamba Juice onto campus to expand dining options? I know that big universities have lots of franchise/commercial eateries on their campuses. Why can't LACs have them as well?

  • April 4, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    Has Swarthmore ever thought about inviting commercial businesses, such as Subway or Jamba Juice onto campus to expand dining options? I know that big universities have lots of franchise/commercial eateries on their campuses. Why can't LACs have them as well?

  • April 4, 2011 at 6:23 pm

    @ Daniel.
    I think there are a few reasons not to have outside food vendors come onto campus. We are not a very large costumer base that they might need to operate long term. Also, it would not be accessible to everyone so it might go against the stated values of the college. Finally, it would cost everyone additional money.

    This may not reflect the model you envisioned but are reasons that LACs and Swarthmore don't have commercial franchises.

  • April 4, 2011 at 11:07 pm

    I'm for taking whatever dough would have gone into the gazebo, along with some other random cash the school has lying around, and making the school something remotely resembling accessible so we can start saving the 10 million bucks we pay each year for violating the ADA.

  • April 5, 2011 at 2:11 am

    Not just the vegans got beans, Gary Okihiro also got invited onto a 3-people panel!!!!! YAY!

  • April 5, 2011 at 10:12 am


    I agree with you fully. After a year away for Swat because of health issues I can attest to the lack of support for the differently abled. And this isn't restricted to peoplle who are clearly/overtly handicapped (those in wheelchairs, etc.) but for CURRENT STUDENTSnot ust visitors who require visible physical supporteven students with chronic health issues like epilsepsy…such as me haha) a school

  • April 5, 2011 at 10:19 am

    **ugh daily gazette (here is the post again lol)**


    I agree with you fully. After a year away from Swat because of health issues I can attest to the lack of support for the differently abled. And this isn't restricted to peoplle who are clearly/overtly handicapped (those in wheelchairs, etc.) but for CURRENT STUDENTS with chronic health issues like epilsepsy…such as me haha. A school with such "strong Quaker values" shouldn't show such disregard for a population of the community simply because the College is "not as large as other schools". The ADA and respect for the disabled require the efforts of all institutions, and I haven't seen very many being made at Swat. Its even more appalling given the fact that we do seem to have the resources to raise money for this inn. I don't know where the money is coming from, but I'm sure that even if it isn't a coming from the school directly those same efforts of raising money could be put in to implementing even the simplest means of support.

    Fall 2011… I'm bringing hell

  • April 5, 2011 at 10:19 am

    I hear that members of the administration (rhymes with "Hopp") are trying to ban all dogs from indoor campus spaces. Evidently Dobby has already been banned from the coffee bars where he used to bring such joy to stressed out students. What is next? Banning dogs from campus entirely?

    Save the dogs! Let them trot through our campus and bring joy to one and all!

  • April 5, 2011 at 10:26 am

    Starbucks is cheaper than our coffee bars. The Co-Op has $7 sandwiches that are more than twice the quantity of food you get for $3.50 at Tarble. Let's not even bring up quality…

    Neither of these two places is using slave labor I assume, so how is this possible?

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