March 26, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 93  

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NEWS

McGill and students in food fight

By Dan Perry
Gazette Staff

Administration at McGill University is rumoured to be proposing the consolidation of its food services, a possibility that has one student group up in arms.

According to Jennifer Robinson, associate vice-principal communications at McGill, repatriation of food services began approximately four years ago when the university began negotiating agreements with various student groups operating food services at the time.

“We’re at a point right now when all contracts will have expired at the end of August,” she said, adding a move to a single service provider is one of several options the university is considering.

In protest, several students have mobilized on the issue, creating the Coalition for Action on Food Services. Engineering Undergraduate Society VP-internal affairs Shane Saunderson is one student who joined CAFS.

“Now [McGill] has a situation where they have the opportunity to take over all of the [cafeterias] on campus and create a food services monopoly,” he said, noting that the EUS’s cafeteria was one of the last student-run cafeterias McGill took over.

“This is the reason the EUS got involved; there was very little negotiation,” he added.

“Much of the tender, we fear, has been offered to Chartwells,” Saunderson said, noting the move appears tailored to that particular service provider, who, he added, already runs eight of the 16 cafeterias on campus.

Ross Munro, VP of Chartwells Educational Dining, explained the relationship between McGill and the food service provider: “Our business is [food services], however, it’s only the request of a particular client that would make these opportunities possible.

“There are no negotiations ongoing,” he said.
“People got the impression the decision was made to go to a single service provider, but the decision has not been made yet,” Robinson said, noting the university could have been clearer with its intentions.

“Everybody cares about quality; some students are concerned their interests aren’t being listened to,” she said. “We’re listening to what students have to say, and in the process of deciding what the university will do.”

According to Saunderson, CAFS’s activities to date have consisted of a poster and media campaign, a 7,500-signature petition, CAFS’s free food booth set up outside three of McGill’s highest-traffic cafeterias and hosting a panel discussion, which he said administration chose not to attend.

 

 

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