Student Senate Report 2/22/2023

Illustration by: Maddie Bataille | Photo Editor

This week from the Student Senate: Dining Services Director Pierre St-Germain and the Student Senate found common ground after year-long tensions between the two organizations at Wednesday’s Student Senate meeting. 

The apprehension began during a tumultuous April 2022 meeting, where St-Germain compared multi-million dollar budgets to a “pee-pee” contest.

Focusing on Dining Services’ proposed amendment to the dining plans that they plan to implement for the Fall 2023 semester, changes in dining hall hours and the implications of their massive staffing shortage, St-Germain and student senators collaborated with each other to begin taking steps to move forward.

St-Germain’s collaborative approach to issues surrounding dining at the University of Rhode Island was met with praise and applause by a wary senate body. 

“If you were to go back in time to April 2022 and tell me that this is what Dining Services would be up to, I would not believe it,” Student Senate Speaker of Assembly, Chris Bove, said. “You took our feedback and made compromises with us about every single thing that we asked for. You made really ambitious improvements to the hours of operation, and I don’t think I have a single complaint about the meal plans. Very well done.”

The Student Senate was elated by Dining Services’ proposed overhaul of the University’s dining plans. The new plan will have a three-tiered system for both campus and Flex plans: Campus Standard, which will cost students $2,575 per semester, will include unlimited access to Mainfare, Butterfield, Ram’s Den and Rhody Express, 200 Dining Dollars, $20 to a Ram Account and three guest meals. 

Campus Plus, at $2,750 per semester, will include the same unlimited access to campus eateries, 400 Dining Dollars, $50 to a Ram Account and six guest meals. 

Campus Complete, costing $2,950 per semester, will include unlimited access to eateries, 700 Dining Dollars, $100 to a Ram Account and 10 guest meals each semester.  Flex plans will take a similar three-tiered approach.

St-Germain emphasized Dining Services’ serious staffing shortage. The department is short 50 full-time employees and 60 student employees. To fill the shortage, Dining Services is initiating a state-wide advertising campaign to hire employees before the fall semester. 

  “If we don’t meet our employment projections, we may have to go to something referred to as a reorganization within our department,” St-Germain said. “We will have to take everything and everyone’s positions, throw them all out and tell everybody that they need to do X to be able to fill X, Y and Z needs to be able to supply the student body with adequate food access.”

  Should Dining Services fill their staffing needs, they plan to extend Mainfare and Butterfield’s hours to be open until 9 p.m.

  Leaving with applause from the Senate body, St-Germain and the Student Senate hope to turn over a new leaf in their relationship. 

“I feel like I should come to you all more often instead of talking to my staff,” St-Germain said after hearing senators’ concerns about various dining-related issues.

  The presidential debate for the Student Senate presidency will take place Monday, Feb. 27th from 6-7 p.m. in Memorial Union room 360. All are welcome to attend. The winner of the election will take President Grace Kiernan’s place after a year of service.

  The Student Senate Cultural Affairs Committee plans to place complaint boxes across campus that will allow students to report acts of discrimination. The boxes will be in residence and academic halls, dining areas and public places throughout campus.

The Student Senate will next meet on Wednesday, March 1.