By Kari Travis | Echo
Lunchtime at the Grille draws hordes of hungry students. Grinders sizzle, quesadillas crisp and chocolate chunk cookies sell like Airband tickets at the late-night show.
But when the clock strikes 11:50 a.m., students' smiles turn to frowns as they trudge away from the campus cafeteria empty-handed. Why?
Faculty and staff lunchtime.
The meal period, which is a Taylor-enacted policy, sets aside 30 minutes for faculty and staff members to get their lunch without having to deal with long lines-and longer food orders, according to Dean of Students Skip Trudeau. Trudeau handles policymaking for foodservice and said the 11:50 a.m. to 12:20 p.m. time allotment is designed to help faculty grab a meal between classes and meetings.
But no policy is perfect, and Trudeau recognizes faculty lunchtime is only partially successful in dealing with a multi-faceted problem. A central issue is that those students with a limited lunchtime window are unable to purchase food during their only break between classes. This leaves some Taylor undergrads in a hungry predicament, a situation Trudeau says is not desirable.
"It's a policy nobody likes," Trudeau said. "It is so counter to everything we do at Taylor. We are so egalitarian in everything we do, and because of our facility we have to come up with what we hope-and obviously it isn't but (we) keep working at it-the best way to make a bad situation not so bad. It's unfortunate, but it's reality."
A reality that students are painfully aware of-and are willing to help fix, according to sophomore Davis Wetherell, head of Taylor's Student Senate Food Committee.
"One student told me their idea for an alternative faculty/staff time: Instead of serving only faculty, simply give faculty/staff first priority in the lines," Wetherell said. "In other words let them cut (in front of) students in line to receive their meals. This way students can get lunch during an open spot in their schedule, while the Grille is offering Taylor's faculty/staff easy access to their lunch."
Wetherell, who regularly deals with student concerns on foodservice, also said that student pushback against Taylor's faculty lunchtime Grille policy might be a reflection of a greater root problem-a lack of overall campus food options.
That issue will be fixed with the construction of Taylor's new campus center, according to Ron Sutherland, vice president of business administration. The new structure will offer a wider variety of food options and seating arrangements.
But no date is set for breaking ground on that project, and, in the meantime, Trudeau says the faculty/staff lunch policy should be tweaked to better accommodate the needs of both faculty and students.
Matthew Riley, director of food service, said the university is looking at several different options to help solve immediate issues. Some of those ideas may even run on trial-basis over the course of next semester.
"We are going to, on a temporary basis, allow students to utilize the 'grab and go' area of the Grille during this faculty/staff time," Riley said. "Only the items in this area will be available to students. The area will be fully stocked so that way-as a student-you will have plenty to choose from."
If the trial period works well, then the Grille will explore other options on how to move forward with items such as hot, pre-made pizzas, french fries and other options from the food chutes, according to Riley. Should the trial-runs go poorly, then food service will reevaluate and come up with different solutions.
"Success will be determined by the feedback that we hear from the students and the faculty and staff that are in the Grille during this time," Riley said.The Echo will continue to follow any changes in Taylor's faculty/staff lunch policies as more permanent solutions are enacted. The Echo was not able to find the date of origin for the faculty meal policy, but confirmed that it has been enforced for at least the past 24 years, according to Vice President of Business Administration Ron Sutherland.