At the Ithaca College Student Governance Council (SGC) meeting Oct. 3, members of Dining Services spoke as well as members from Physical Therapy Students of Color (PTSC) in an attempt to appeal a denied request for funding.
Administrative guests included Tim Downs, vice president for Finance and Administration and chief financial officer; Scott McWilliams, director of Dining Services Administrative; and Reginald Briggs, associate director of Dining Services Administrative.
Starting in Fall 2019, all dining services were insourced after the college cut ties with Sodexo. Now, ingredients are sourced locally and menus are created exclusively by the college’s dining staff. Briggs said Dining Services had little time to adjust to this change before the COVID-19 pandemic caused the college to shut down on-campus operations in Spring 2020.
“I think it’s important for all of you to know, and really everybody to know, that we, too, are frustrated by what we’re able to deliver and not really put forward the program that we created and are really excited to do,” Briggs said.
Briggs said one of the largest challenges in campus dining is the lack of staff, which has resulted in unpopular changes, like Towers Marketplace closing temporarily at the start of the fall semester. As of Oct. 5, there are 38 open positions in Dining Services and 22 of them are cooks. Briggs said the primary focus for improving dining is to increase the culinary staff.
Briggs asked the SGC how to attract more student employees and what incentives would increase interest in dining jobs. Senior Grace Madeya, president of the student body, said she has heard that working in dining is less appealing for students than other jobs on campus.
“One of the big issues I hear from students is — and you can’t really stop this — is the dining hall is more like a lot of labor and moving around and standing on your feet for a long period of time,” Madeya said. “Especially other jobs on campus where you sit at a desk, do homework, answer when the phone rings; so sometimes, when you’re competing with that, that’s kind of where I think why students might not want a job in dining.”
Downs responded by asking if a pay difference between jobs that are less labor intensive would help increase interest in Dining Services — which Madeya said yes to.
“We worry about the ripples,” Downs said. “What about other staff that have frontline workers, student workers? We want to make sure to find the right equitable balance across all the staff.”
The dining halls on campus have also struggled to hire a sufficient number of student employees since the return to campus in Spring 2021. Briggs said Dining Services has only spent 5.9% of their annual budget allocated for paying student employees so far and would like to have enough student employees to fully utilize that budget.
Briggs said Dining Services would like to have more meal options across campus, especially at lunch time when the Campus Center Dining Hall is serving upward of 1,500 meals just between noon and 1 p.m.
Following the presentation from Dining Services, the SGC heard an appeal against the Appropriations Committee from the PTSC. Juniors Treasure Blackman, vice president of PTSC, and Ikraan Sheekh Nuur, treasurer of PTSC, presented their case, and a representative from the Appropriations Committee, senior Max Powers, explained the reason that the funding request was denied.
“The committee has a longstanding tradition of denying retroactive funding,” Powers said. “Very rarely, any organization actually steps in to appeal.”
PTSC’s first funding request Sept. 20 was denied because documentation did not show how much money was being requested for the event. The second request Sept. 24 was also denied because the student organization had already paid for their event prior to submitting the request and the Appropriations Committee does not allow retroactive funding.
“We took initiative and we met with Max Powers, we were fortunate enough that he would meet with us for an hour and explain the situation,” Sheekh Nuur said.
Afterward, all guests who were not the SGC members were asked to leave the meeting as the senate deliberated. After deliberation, the SGC motioned to deny the appeal.
For its last order of business, the SGC confirmed sophomore Carli McConnell to the Appropriations Committee.
The SGC is the sole representative body for the Ithaca College student community. The SGC can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.