Equivalency Madness

Ellen Hoffman, Print Editor

MU Junior, Sean Vitale, speaks out at equiv meetingStudent feedback led to change in the Cougar’s Den.  Students took to social media outlets when rumors began to float about the elimination of equivalency meals. The confusion began after an announcement of eliminating the program surfaced in late January.  Students posted comments and photos on the Metz Dining at Misericordia University official Facebook page, trying to save the equivalency program.

Metz and school officials decided to keep the current program in place after reading students responses and looking at things through their perspective.  Officials held a question and answer forum to allow students to clear up any concerns on Feb 2.  Nearly 70 students participated, talking with Metz and school officials about the possible changes and uncertainties they had.

Originally, the new program was not clearly voiced to students, resulting in outbursts and strong reactions.  The proposed program offered longer dining hall hours.  Instead of only serving dinner from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., the dining hall would provide take out containers to students and serve hot food as well as Cougar’s Den choices from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m., when students would normally be offered equivalency.

“Things are staying the way it is, despite all the help that Metz was trying to do,” said Student Government President AJ Heintz.  “They heard our concerns and I believe they came up with a very good answer to all our concerns.”

Prior to the forum, students took to social media outlets to voice their opinions, with some confusion about exactly what was changing.  With the possible elimination of the equivalency program, students strongly voiced their concerns on the official Facebook page.

“The only problem I think Metz had was more on the marketing side, they didn’t convey it to the students,” said Heintz.  “But at the same time, students didn’t listen to the other side and that has me a little upset and embarrassed.  I mean there were people that went on the Facebook and displayed their concerns, understandable, but when Metz gives you the opportunity to come talk to them and you don’t show up, it’s a disgrace.”

After hearing the specific details of the proposed plan, a number of students wondered whether or not it was still under consideration. Metz realized how some students reacted when hearing of the plan, introduced the idea of a trial period.   “I think it would help that there would be a trial run, it can be a little tricky to do with just changing around a service like that for the week but I believe that is being considered as well, strongly,” said Mike Raub, Retail Manager.  “I think once people got to see it in action people would appreciate where it was helping them out.”

Students agree with implementing a trial run period just to get a taste of what service would be like.  Sophomore Cheyne Kulessa is interested in seeing how the new program would work but feels students and faculty should be given advanced notice before anything drastically changes.

“If Metz gave a heads up before they did anything that would benefit everyone because it would kind of get everyone on board with what’s going on around campus,” he said.  “I really think students acted irrationally because they took the information at face value that ‘Metz was taking equiv away’, which I think was somewhat immature.  I also think it was unprofessional of Metz to listen to the opinions of a handful of students instead of the whole student body.”

At the question and answer session students had the opportunity to voice any concerns or offer advice to the Metz Corporation.  Raub thought the forum helped to clear up any confusion and believed that students should have the chance to voice these concerns throughout the school year.  “I think last night went very well. The dialogue that went on was excellent. The feedback we received was very beneficial.”

Students informed the Metz Corporation of changes they think should be made regarding food service on campus.  From the variety and taste of the food to the cleanliness and speed of service, there was not a subject left untouched.  A main concern of students focused on the options available during each meal.

Sophomore Emily Hullings started the night with a plea for more variety.  “Last year they had more choices as far as pastas and rice changing everyday.  There used to be just different nights of things that were great tasting and now I feel like it’s the same choices that do not have flavor or variety.”

Students at the forum seemed to overwhelmingly agree with Hullings in the area of wanting more of a variety.  Metz answered questions and concerns addressing a number of other different topics and together with students tried to find resolutions to the problems.

“I think everything is up for consideration at this point, there is nothing that we are going to stand here and say flat out ‘no,’” said Raub.  “Everything is being considered at some point and at any kind of discussion there is a give and take that has to happen. But if you get something you may end up losing something. And there is a large amount of people that say it will be great, a large amount that say that it won’t and trying to please both of those groups is where we’re at.”

Since the forum, there have already been changes put into place.  In the Cougar’s Den, a water option was placed onto the fountain soda machine and an iced tea product is in the works.  Cougar’s Den employees also began using the receipts with a carbon copy again.  This change was put in place to help the speed of service move more quickly and eliminate the large crowds.  The use of the carbon copy eliminates the herds of customers in the convenience section.  For now, students will still need to listen for their name to know when their order is ready.

Although this project is still in the planning stages, Metz is looking for a solution to the elimination of the microphone system that was used prior to renovation.   “The thought was that you would be assigned a number, similar to a grocery store or deli and when your order was ready the number would be displayed on the screen in the seating area,” said Raub.  Although this remedy has not been finalized yet it is very close to appearing in the Den.

Overall, the discussions Metz held with students seemed to clear the confusion and help improve the food service.  “This University has meant a lot to us over the years and certainly our goal is to please you,” said Dennis Daley, District Manager of Metz Corporation.   “You guys are the customers and we’re going to work very hard.  You gave us a lot of great information for us to work on.  Sometimes the only way you get better is when you hear some stuff.  It was painful to hear today, but I assure you that that stuff is going to be fixed.”