TVs will allow for students to share feedback in a modern way

Joseph LaChance  | TVs were installed at Mainfaire Dining Hall, displaying student feedback on the menu.

Dining services installed new TV’s in Mainfare dining hall at the beginning of the spring semester as a means to communicate more directly with students to hear their feedback.

“We hope to hear back from our students,” said Tara Connors, head manager of Mainfare dining hall, “the good and the bad about new menu items that we have launched this semester, new products that we have introduced and get a better understanding from our students perspective on how they feel about service, cleanliness and experience overall.”
Beginning spring semester of 2019, dining services is looking to receive more feedback from students about what they can improve within their services. By dispersing televisions throughout Mainfare dining hall, displaying questionnaires and other student-friendly feedback channels, URI dining is looking to expand its services.

“We had been in discussion about a better way to hear from our students for quite some time, as the handwritten comment cards were pretty archaic,” said Connors. “The new director of dining was already familiar with this system so it seemed like a good fit for us. We hope to extend it to our other dining outlets in the future, but Mainfare is the test for it.”

Due to a spike in interest to have either Mainfare or Butterfield remain open throughout the day without breaks in-between meals, dining services is looking to work more with students to ensure their happiness in their services.

“We want to know what the students want,” said Connors. “It is important to us that the students are satisfied with our services, since they are the ones paying for meal plans.”

With new goals oriented around students and their desires, URI dining is considering all suggestions. It remains unclear as to how soon their services will act on the feedback, although it is important to note that this is in part due to the unsuspected amount of feedback that came to their services.

“We have been able to answer a lot of questions that we never knew our students had,” Connors said. “It depends on the feedback for how quickly we can respond to it.  Some things can be handled immediately, while others take time. It is completely situational.”

Before this tactic was implemented, students used to talk about their suggestions for the dining halls amongst their peers. Now, students have the ability to communicate directly with the staff, seeing as how that is where the feedback gets sent to. In light of this, a lot of interesting suggestions have come across. From continuous daytime hours, to later dinner hours, staying open on the weekends, and even putting ice cream in Mainfaire, students have been voicing all sorts of things to the staff.

“Personally, I like dining services here, but I also think that they have a lot they can improve on,” said sophomore student Kelsey Sharpe. “I think besides the obvious one, being staying open later, they can also benefit a lot from providing a wider variety in their foods,” Sharpe said.

Dining services has gained a recent interest in the question many URI students have had before: Why is Butterfield closed on the weekends?

Since Mainfare has become overcrowded in more recent years, in part due to an expanding undergraduate population, some students don’t even bother to go anymore.

“Living in fraternity circle has killed my interest in going anymore, especially on the weekends when only Hope is open,”  said sophomore Jay Rossi. “I’d rather order food than walk there, only for it to be closed or over-crowded.”

While nothing is set in stone, dining services is taking efforts to ensure the satisfaction of students within their services. URI dining has recognized the various obstacles presented for students and has started taking strides to lessen some of these issues for students on campus.