By: Kevin McDonnell
NIAGARA UNIVERSITY, N.Y.- On Nov. 12, the Niagara University Student Government Association (NUSGA) held its first Town Hall of the semester. The Town Hall program featured representatives from Metz and the university to discuss issues of food service and feedback to student surveys. The Town Hall program was reintroduced to the campus community last year under former president Cheyenne Freely and current president Nick Graham has worked to continue to provide the forum for students to discuss issues around campus.
The Town Hall started with Mike Jeswell who described his position as a liaison between the university and Metz and noted the way the partnership between the two organizations has developed over the last five years to accommodate the student population more effectively. Jeswell was key to mention how substantial a role food service plays in the lives of Niagara University’s students. As the university continues to look at retention and enrollment food service will no doubt continue to play a role.
Following Jeswell’s comments, Andrew Shaner, General Manager of Metz went through student feedback and ways the organization has sought to improve moving forward. Shaner noted the ways that Metz is seeking to expand its food offerings with the possibility of adding a Starbucks on campus pending an evaluation of its contract with Tim Horton’s. Further planning for Metz looks at adding additional food offerings such as Chick-fil-A or Moe’s Southwest Grill to the Gallagher Center. It is important to note that these initiatives are still preliminary, but it is encouraging to see Metz move towards more popular food offerings. Both Jeswell and Shaner noted how the university has sought to cut down on stealing from Clet whether it be simply food or actual ceramic plates and cups. Jeswell estimated that cup and plate replacement last year cost Metz roughly $45,000 a cost that will certainly be passed on to the students should it continue in the form of tuition. That is not to say that either Jeswell or Shaner were not understanding of the issue of food insecurity amongst college students and noted the addition of the Student Food Pantry as one way the university is beginning to work on the issue with the hopes of adding additional support in the future.
Town Halls offer an amazing opportunity for students to get involved. The biggest thing that all administrators illustrated over and over was how important student feedback is and how often they reach out to students with no response. It is this reporter’s hope that future Town Halls will be packed with students ready to lend their voices to student concerns and hopefully make change for the Purple Eagles who come after them.