The lack of communication to the student body about changes in their community is concerning. Photo by Kristina.
UMBC has always existed as a small community. There is a mutual trust between students and staff to be respectful and understanding of one another. However, sometimes there are campus events that fail to showcase respect and transparency to the student body part of the community.
“The Retriever” has previously covered the sudden, unannounced price increase of certain items on Salsarita’s menu. The problem is less with the restaurant and more with the lack of communication between students and dining services of this change.
Most did not know about the $1 price hike on some food items such as rice and beans until they saw a myUMBC post by Maxwell Poole, senior computer science, mathematics and economics major. Though Poole brought attention to the 25 percent increase in order to inform the student population, his actions unintentionally encouraged students to stop frequenting Salsarita’s, advocated for holding Chartwells accountable and inspired others to express their own dissatisfaction with UMBC’s vegetarian choices.
Salsarita’s is a restaurant with multiple locations in Maryland. As stated on their website, “prices vary by location.” There is no public information on how pricing works without contacting a representative, but it stands to reason that a franchise run by a company that specifically works with universities should lower its prices to a student-friendly level. Even Chipotle, a restaurant much more well-known and with a higher standing, has burrito prices almost $0.20 less than UMBC’s on-campus Salsarita’s.
These issues together paint a worrying picture. Students deserve to have advanced notice of any and all changes in their community, in everything from UMBC tuition price hikes to construction. The important distinction here is that those rises are preempted with emails from the university or large posted signs, respectively.
“My main concern was that there was a hidden price increase,” Poole elaborated on his post in an interview, “Being more transparent … would make the pill much easier to swallow … [being] open about your pricing structure should be the first thing that is done and not implemented after people raise a fuss.”
Chartwells, the food service that handles many of the restaurants on campus, does not have any direct correspondence with the student body. Because Chartwells’ partners interact with students every day, Chartwells itself should be communicating any changes or updates clearly and promptly.
Poole suggested, “a post on myUMBC about the price increase … and an immediate update to their menu to reflect the price change” as the minimum level of action taken by the company, which would require very little time to perform.
“The information that I wanted to get out got out,” Poole said when asked about the reception of his post, “and it put a reasonable level of pressure on Salsarita’s to change their pricing structure.”
As of Oct. 9, according to Tom DeLuca, Resident District Manager, stated on myUMBC that after meeting with Salsarita’s regional representative, “[Salsarita’s has] agreed to support us by including rice and beans on quesadilla’s and salads if the customer would like them.”
Student dissatisfaction ended up making a change and that is heartening. However, UMBC, as a public university, still needs to have full transparency with its students rather than simply being reactive.