On Sept. 26, the General Student Senate discussed the possible reconstruction of the club sports’ finances, the proposed newsletter from the Student Leadership team, containing interview spotlights and showcases and reminders for legal representatives on campus who can help with leasing off-campus.
Amidst the chatter surrounding these topics, two issues that engaged the room involved new important information to the student body: the broken blue lights and the ongoing unease with the dining halls.
Senator Meredyth Waters spoke with the UMaine Chief of Police, William Flagg, regarding the continuously broken blue lights. The meeting was told that the blue lights have not been working, particularly on the west side of campus, due to broken pieces.
“[The Chief] says that it will be three weeks for the parts of the blue lights to be repaired… they should be fixed within a month,” Waters stated. “Four outside lights go out every day. The police need campus help.”
What this would entail is the police’s push for UMaine students to utilize the free Black Bear Safe app, intended to be used for quick access to campus security services. With parts for the blue lights still in disrepair, the UMaine Chief of Police urges students to use the app to alert the campus of new broken lights, according to Waters. The police also urge students to be extra careful at night in the darker areas of campus, especially the west side of campus.
Most of the night was spent discussing the quality of the new dining provider, Sodexo. Senator Beau Michaud, who also represents the Services Committee, spoke with Tadd Stone, the resident district manager and Matthew Legault, the general manager of our dining services. Senator Michaud reported new information about Sodexo’s plans and goals in the upcoming months and years.
Michaud noted that some students had expressed concerns over the unavailability of the allergy bar but that allergy-prone students can request food be cooked separately through Sodexo’s proprietary dining app. When senators questioned Michaud about why this was not widely reported, he reported that Sodexo had not felt the need to publicize this service.
Beyond the allergy news, it has been announced that metal utensils and glass plates will be used instead of paper and plastic materials, which had been utilized due to staffing issues. With this now resolved, the dining hall will begin on a new path to proposed improvement.
Sodexo has promised several advancements in their services, such as a pizza bar opening at Hilltop in the coming months and renovations to be finished at York dining hall by summer 2024.
The final information passed from Senator Michaud regards Sodexo’s plan to locally source one-third of the food at all University of Maine System institutions. UMaine has already sourced more than 20% of its food locally, beating Sodexo’s original aim, with no current plans to go higher.
While such improvements from Sodexo were overall welcomed in the board meeting, the issue of food quality made tensions rise. Since many students have reported issues with the standards at Sodexo, Michaud reported that he did indeed ask Stone if the dining center planned on improving the quality of food, to which he reported Stone “basically dodged the question.” The blue light discussion and the Sodexo interview took precedence over much of the meeting, but the student body also gained information on resources certain committee members announced.
Student Wellness discussed their education programs, notably their substance abuse mitigation events and bystander intervention initiative, all of which can be read about at https://umaine.edu/wellness/prevention-and-education-programs/.
The Commuter and Non-Traditional Students (CANS) pushed changes to their constitution to better support the 63% of students who live off campus. CANS supports students through funding, legal advice, and as a voice to the University administration and student government.
For more insights on student government or the specific organizations listed, please inquire at UMSG@maine.edu.