The Student Life Committee (SLC) held its regular meeting Tuesday, Oct. 18 to discuss with Vice President for Finance Tom Axtell the issue of pricing and alcohol policy for catering faculty and student functions on campus.
The discussion was prompted by Instructor in Art and SLC member Michael Godsil, who argued that it has become too expensive to go to Dining Services to cater an event, and the Art Department has often gone to outside vendors instead.
“The pricing structure for internal catering is not competitive with what we could get by going to outside vendors,” Godsil said. “It just always seemed odd to us.”
Axtell countered that at the very least, prices for Dining Services catering should be at a break-even point, because otherwise, student board fees would be subsidizing that catering. He added that Dining Services’ labor costs are fixed and much larger than those of local vendors, so the prices are set marginally higher to relieve the labor cost.
“We are not trying to price ourselves so that we are a detrimental influence,” Axtell said. “We don’t want to put those folks out of business.”
The conversation later turned to the issue of having alcohol served at student events, as was done in the Taylor Student Lounge last year during senior week. Dean of Students Debbie Southern addressed some concerns with Dining Services’ alcohol policies that do not coincide with her office’s policies.
Southern talked about the alcohol pricing for events catered by Dining Services in which the price of alcohol decreases when more is purchased (if not an entire keg of beer is consumed, there must be enough revenue to cover the cost, since that product cannot be saved and reused), adding that a policy like that does not comply with the Office of Student Development (OSD).
Southern said she would like to split off the part of the policy related to alcohol so that it could be altered to comply with OSD, mainly so that parties with alcohol could have other venues like the Oak Room or the Taylor Student lounge.
Eventually, the discussion turned toward how to supply food for student events and the possibility of using meal swipes at an event like a barbecue, which has been done in the past.
But committee members acknowledged that it is not widely known or publicized exactly the extent to which student organizations have access to those means.
“We’ve got a lot of students on campus who do things a lot of different ways,” Southern said. “They’re not trying to beat the system, but they’re trying to access the system.”
Student Senate President senior Gordon Barratt gave his weekly report to the committee, talking about the resolution passed by Student Senate last week to condemn theft from the Hard Knox Cafe and Oak Room and the discussion on switching the email server from Zimbra to Gmail.
SLC meets every Tuesday at 4 p.m. in Borzello Hall 116. Its meetings are open to the public.