During the latest Student Government Association senate meeting, senate representatives met with senior associate vice president for administrative services, Terry Cook, who spoke upon the recent updates and proceedings concerning the Chartwells dining contract.
As of right now, Chartwells – the catering organization responsible for providing the various dining selections in the UMBC Commons building – has proposed a five year extension to their current contract with UMBC which would carry the agreement through the year 2023.
However, there are a few concerns from the senate regarding the aforementioned contract. In their most recent meeting, the attending representatives brought up several questions. Of these questions and concerns, several topics such as cultural food sensitivities, accountability (such as how UMBC can solicit dining feedback and apply their statistical findings to better serve the community on campus) and local food were major highlighted points.
In addition to those questions, the Senate brought up inquiries concerning the Non-Compete/Monopoly Clause of the Chartwells Dining Contract which is currently a major point of discussion between the SGA and UMBC Administrative Services.
According to Speaker of the Senate Sarah Lilly, the reason for questioning these matters within the contract is mainly for clarification purposes and to provide a more accessible environment for the students on campus to get involved.
“From the student standpoint, the main thing [we are] thinking of is student learning opportunities… Think of all of the possibilities a student-run coffee shop could bring. Students from all disciplines could come together and do everything… from designing the space, to running the business and making decisions, every step is a major learning opportunity for students. We just want clarification on what exactly we can and cannot do.”
The main goal, from the senate’s perspective, is to further explore, pursue and answer the questions brought up by the Senate by partnering with students via good-faith efforts and opportunities.
Based on the SGA’s support, UMBC is continuing to actively pursue amending Chartwells’s contract extension and according to Cook, the amendment will require certain approvals outside of UMBC. In the meantime, administrative services will be reviewing comments and suggestions from the senate regarding the previously mentioned contract and planning to schedule visits in order to have further discussions concerning the dining services program.
Other than the current proceedings of the contract developments, the Senate is keeping track and looking for clear indication that their issues are being discussed and developed. “[We] haven’t really thought of a situation in which we [Senate and Administrative Services] can not come to an agreement… We are not opposed to this contract extension, it simply provided us a great opportunity to get our opinions out there,” said Lilly.