By Katie Ward
The Catholic University of America SGA Senate had its second meeting of the year on Monday, October 16th, in the Pryzbyla Center Great Room B. Further discussions concerning the arts curriculum reform and a resolution to increase the Student Restaurant operating hours were the main matters on the agenda. The meeting touched on open spots in committees as well as expanding hours for the dining hall.
The chairs of each committee — Rules and Administration, Academic Affairs, University Services, Student Resources, and Campus Life — spoke for a few minutes about any open spots they had and what they hoped to accomplish during the upcoming academic year.
One notable potential legislation came from the Academic Affairs Committee, chaired by Senator Aaron Mackisey of the School of Music.
During the opening committee reports, Mackisey mentioned that in the past, the Academic Affairs Committee focused on curriculum reform and study-abroad options for students, and they will now be focusing on the university budget.
“At a time when the University is going through a difficult budgetary time, by the Provost’s own admission, we really should be playing our part to see if we can help provide some positive changes,” Mackisey said.
Vice President Jon Paul Weiss, who presides over all Senate meetings, added that Mackisey represented the Senate last Wednesday during the meeting of the Undergraduate Board, led by Dr. Lynn Mayer. At the meeting, the motion to change the curriculum was passed and will now move on to the Academic Senate.
“It was the first time the curriculum has been voted to be adjusted in four years,” Weiss said. “So if you think about that, we’ve been following the same curriculum for quite some time.”
Senator Cavan Hagerty of the School of Arts and Sciences, chair of the Student Resources Committee, was the sponsor of the only resolution on the evening’s agenda, which proposed that Dining Services should keep the Student Restaurant open later.
Last year, the Student Restaurant was open until 10:30 PM Sunday through Thursday, and until 1 AM on Fridays and Saturdays. This year, the Student Restaurant closes its doors at 9 PM on weekdays and weekends.
After speaking with Dining Services on the issue, Hagerty said the reasons for the change were that the budget is tighter, very few students ate there after 9 PM last year, and the Metro’s shorter hours did not allow commuting staff to get home after they closed.
Hagerty said that between last year and this year, the price for a meal plan went up while the hours for dining were cut. When Hagerty and Weiss raised the issue to Timothy Carney, Director of Dining Services, Carney responded that there were dining options on Monroe Street that were open past 9 PM, where students could purchase dinner.
One key concern Hagerty raised was that the schedule these students operated on were “university sanctioned.” These include students taking late-night classes, participating in drama productions, and playing on sports teams. This group represents approximately six percent of students with meal plans.
“Which, to myself and other students in the room, was, quite frankly, a silly answer, given the fact that we’re already paying for a meal plan on campus,” Hagerty said.
To pass the resolution, Weiss mentioned some negotiation proposals that Dining Services had given the senators, including limiting dining hours at other times, giving less options during extended hours, and the discontinuation of the expensive to-go containers.
Dining Services had previously expressed that if the student senators agreed to get rid of to-go boxes in the Student Restaurant, they would probably “stay open until 1 AM”. Due to the popularity of the convenient option, the to-go boxes cost Dining Services an estimated $125,000 per year. The senators hoped that this resolution would encourage Dining Services to focus more on the student’s needs.
The resolution originally called for the Student Restaurant to be opened until 9:30 PM. Some senators, including Mackisey, mentioned that an extra half hour would not help the students the resolution was trying to reach, and motioned that it be amended to 11 PM.
“We’re talking about feeding the students; that’s one of the most basic needs. I’m simply dumbfounded that we have to explain that it’s important to feed the students,” Mackisey said.
After a little over half of the senators voted to amend it, the motion was carried and the resolution was changed to request that the Student Restaurant close no earlier than 11PM.
The resolution was changed again to petition that the Student Restaurant be open until 11PM only Monday through Thursdays. When School of Music Senator Lizzy Andrew criticized the change, saying that the Senate shouldn’t limit themselves when they already have no regulatory power, Hagerty replied that they want to come off as reasonable when petitioning Dining Services.
After much debate, the resolution was passed, and members of the Senate sponsoring and co-sponsoring the resolution, including Jimmy Harrington, Alex Santana, and Elise LaFleur, look forward to meeting again with Dining Services to discuss the change.
“At the end of the day, whether it’s six percent, twenty percent, or fifty percent, I think it’s the University’s job to provide three meals a day, at a reasonable time, given the University sanctioned schedule, to all students required to buy a meal plan,” Hagerty summarized.
The next Senate meeting will be on November 6th at 8 PM in the Pryzbyla Great Rooms. The meeting is open to all university students and staff.