Friday, February 10, 2012

Why I hate the UWW’s dining services (by anon)

As a sophomore of this university, I have found myself thoroughly enjoying several aspects of my education. My professors are interesting, my friends are great, and the dorms aren’t nearly as bad as I thought they’d be. However, there has been one major complaint that has only grown into a passionate hatred the longer I endure it: the campus dining services.

We spend a little over a thousand dollars each semester on food, I understand in comparison to other campuses this is cheap, and for good reason. It’s all crap from the food to the service and anything in between.

First of all, I pay for these meals, so I expect to have one whenever I want. I am an adult capable of making decisions about my money and I don’t think the university has the right to tell me that I can’t have 5 meals in one sitting if I damn well please. I didn’t give them that money to control my intake of food, I gave them that money to have readily available when I want to go eat. In addition to this atrocity, my meals don’t roll over. I only get 14 a week and if I don’t use every one of them, they disappear into a university vortex and my money is just flushed down the toilet. They should roll over; in fact I shouldn’t be told I can only have so many meals in a week. I should be given a certain amount a semester so I can determine what I want when I want. Once again, I am an adult who can manage my own meal options. I feel like the university is stealing from me when they don’t allow me to have what I’ve already purchased.

Secondly, I hate the locations of where I can and cannot have my meal plan. The University Center is right next to all of my classes and much more convenient that booking it back to Esker, shoveling food down my throat, and then booking it back to class. Why can’t I use my meal plan at the UC? I understand the coffee shop allows me a coffee and a donut for a meal option, but seriously, what kind of lunch is that? Sugar and caffeine? Some of us are trying to live healthy lifestyles. Why can’t the Commons or the Café have a meal plan option? Then I wouldn’t have to skip lunch or run for it to get back on time for classes. In addition, to the slim meal plan dining location choices, the hours these places have are HORRIBLE. I like to stay on the weekend, and I know I’m not the only one. I understand this is a commuter college so I don’t expect all places to be open, but puh-lease! I can’t grab anything until 11am on a weekend day. What if I had to work at 10:30am and didn’t get a lunch until later? I would be so hungry by then I would be cranky and a poorly performing employee. It’s a little presumptuous to assume that because we’re college students we all sleep in super late. A lot of us actually like to get up early and enjoy our whole day, and those days would start off a lot better if we could get breakfast on our campus.

Lastly, the dining halls for residents are disgusting in every single way I can think of. Forget the occasional night when we have steak and shrimp or a chocolate fountain for Valentine’s Day, the vast majority of the time, we’re served slop. Prisoners get better food than we do and they don’t even spend a thousand dollars on it. Most meals are under cooked, over cooked, under seasoned, or just flat out slimy. Places like P Street or Drumlin rarely change their meal options and after a month, you’ve eaten everything they’ve had to offer so many times that you’d rather make yourself a dirt sandwich than ever even look at another dining hall burger.  I have also noticed that the dining halls are not cleaned very often and while I understand that a couple hundred college students can make a mess during the day, there are lulls and plenty of breaks where they can wipe down a few tables and mop up some of the sticky messes that get on the floors. I’m not saying to totally douse the place in bleach, but a little maintenance during the day never hurt anybody. 

Overall, I think the dining services offered here on campus are very bad and poorly thought through. If the budget is the reason for this horror, then charge us a hundred dollars more or something. We already have one of the cheapest educations in the state, a hundred dollars more would make a huge difference and not be that big of deal tacked onto our bill. If it’s just laziness on the university’s part then shame on them. We’re students working hard toward our futures, we need the basic human necessities available to us when we need them and because we aren’t a large group of felons we deserve better than the slop we’re served or the availability we’re given. I’m not asking for 5 star quality I’m just asking for some effort on UWW’s part.


  1. It's chartwells what do you except? They keep things cheap by pulling a Mcdonalds and shipping in a bunch of frozen food and it's not good. Do you know long some of that shit stays under heat lamps? My advice is to get out of that meal plan as soon as you are able to do so. You can make microwave food in your dorm that's better then the shit they shill.

    Second, want to know why shit is never clean in campus meal halls? Most of the staff that are not on days are students who are getting paid min wage to put up with some of the most entitled people on earth. People will constantly give them shit in line with their friends for working at chartwells in the first place. Most of these people hate their jobs to begin with so they do the bare min to take care of things. Most of the time that's simply serving the food and doing whatever else the boss says. Not all employees are like this and some do their jobs well.

    Last is the most simple of all. Chartwells is a business and we have a policy at this school where freshman and sophmores have to have a meal plan for x amount of time unless you get exempt. Chartwells knows that if costs are kept low they will make more profits. Why else do you think they tell employees to measure ingredients and limit the amount of food they put out?

    I am like you and I like a lot of things about my education and time at Whitewater. I agree with your complaints about Chartwells though. I have a combination of My Meals and my own groceries now. My meals can be used anywhere on campus. Anytime. Only drawback is that it doesn't refill. When you are out you have to buy more. Still, better to have control of your meals.

    Prof. Chaos

  2. If I recall correctly, Chartwells' contract with the university was extended a couple years ago. So don't count on any changes soon.

    I can relate because I used to complain about Chartwells freshman year. A lot of the complaints you have are valid points, especially about losing meal transfers you have already paid for.

    If you get a meal plan you just kinda have to take it in the ass, just like we have to do with a lot of things in this town.

    If you really hate Esker I suggest going to Drumlin more often (I did this my sophomore year and appreciated the slightly higher quality food as well as being able to eat whenever I wanted)

    My best suggestion, though, is to join the grown-ups and start cooking your own meals. It's much cheaper, and you'll eat healthier and better than at Chartwells. Using a common kitchen might sound lame, but it's actually a nice way to meet people and socialize.

  3. Next year Drumlin will be closed probably until the middle of spring semester, they are basically rebuilding the entire thing and it will be exactly like Esker.

    For those living in the 6-pack/Starin areas they will either have to walk to Esker every time they want to eat, or go to the UC (which will have meal plans for only the time Drumlin is closed). There may also be a third option where the Walmart/Sentry may start taking dining dollars, so you could possibly be able to buy "real" food over there.

    I'm a former RA of UWW and we've been hearing about this stuff for about a year. Unfortunately we have also complained (as a reslife staff in whole) and Chartwells basically gave us the finger and didn't put any of our suggestions into the works.

    Cooking in the kitchens in the dorms is a great idea . . . I do suggest that you either throughly clean the pots/pans before you even use them . . . or even better (if you can afford it) buy your own set. Most of the kitchen equipment in the dorms has been "donated" by former residents (meaning that when we went through their rooms during the summer they left stuff and we took it). The front desk also doesn't clean anything that's turned in . . . so you have no idea what's been on that pan!!

    I applaud you for making healthy choices while in school . . . I started there as well and I'm still eating well to date.


  4. You know, I'm really glad I came to Whitewater when I was two years out of high school instead of directly out of high school. I'd be pissed if I was forced to live in a stupid ass dorm and participate in some stupid ass meal plan in which the food and service is clearly sub par. I wouldn't last a minute in one of those dingy, greasy dining halls. I don't even understand why students are forced to do anything like live in dorms or be subjected to Chartwells' crummy food and service. Is this a daycare? Because I thought it was a college, for adults. I think living where I live now and being able to make 100% of my own food choices is worth waiting two years to enroll here. I'm pretty sure I pay less money for my off campus apartment and food per semester than some of these students do.

  5. I cannot believe that I am replying to this post in defense of Chartwells. I, as a former Director of Dining Services at a university in North Dakota for Chartwells understand you dilemma but have to inform you of a few facts on this subject. And before you go saying he is in love with Chartwells, notice the former Director of Dining Services, as I cannot stand the company either, but for very different reasons.

    1. Chartwells, or any university dining service does not receive the total amount of the money you pay the university, on average the contract company receives about 50 to 60% and the university keeps the rest for maintenance, utilities, etc…
    2. The meal plans not rolling over is a university policy, not chartwells, this is not new to the meal plan world. This is one of the reasons you meal plan is so cheap. When the bid for the contract is submitted missed meals are taken into account. This is highly outdated and most universities have gone to block plans where you are given a certain amount of meals per semester and you use them when you like. But remember when you are out of meals you are out.
    3. The variety and quantity of meals and type of food is contracted with the university. The university has final say in all things contractually. If you have a problem with these items you need to take it up with the university.
    4. As far as the locations of dining services go, see number 3.
    5. Now the cleaning of the dining halls could go either way, I have been involved in contracts where the university is responsible and also where chartwells is responsible. You would have to do a little research into who is responsible for this.
    6. The suggestion of raising the rate about a hundred bucks per semester is a noble idea but you will find you are in the minority on this one.

    As a parting suggestion, I know most of the management team at UWW and know them to be good, honest, fair people. Instead of ranting on a blog page the more productive thing to do is talk to them about your concerns and to also talk to the student dining service committee, yes there is one at UWW.

  6. First of all, I've talked to people about this. Trust me this isn't the first statement I've made about this situation and I promise it won't be the last.

    Second of all, the people who commented on my blog post mentioned Chartwells, I couldn't care less who is in charge of our dining services, it doesn't suck worse or less because of who is creating this mess.

    Third of all, we're adults and if some of us are too irresponsible to keep track of the amount of meals we have in a week, then that's our problem, not the university's. We should be allowed to have our meals set for the semester, not the week.

    Lastly, I never said the people in charge of the management team were bad people, I never said they were dishonest, unintelligent, or unfair. They don't eat the food every day. They have homes to go to every night with fridges full of food. So in my opinion, they don't have much of clue of what I am talking about. Anybody who has eaten the food here every day, multiple times a day for endless months know exactly what I'm talking about.

    Anyway, ranting on a blog page about whatever I want is my right as an American citizen. Plenty of people go out and rant about other things, and at least I know a great deal of people feel the same way as I do about this.

  7. When it comes down to it for meals here. I understand this isn't five star food, but for what we pay, we should at least get standards equal to or better than other fast food chains, both in quality, and the hygiene of the eating facility itself. Having worked in a fast food restaurant myself, I feel that they have fallen short. The older folks that work there are awesome and know how to make the food right,but the students slap it together sloppily and just seem to not care. I know it is a job at a fast food joint, but a little pride in your work would be nice.

  8. I concur with OP; the food served on campus is absolutely garbage. I canceled my meal plan a few weeks into the spring semester, and got 35 of the MyMeals thing that I mainly use at the UC (where the food is better) occasionally when I'm too lazy to cook or when other people want to go get food with me.

    It's no wonder why so many people on this campus are fat and out of shape when you look at the quality of food being served.