Letters to the Editors

Caf quality to blame for food fight?

Dear Editors,

Re: “Food fight leaves students hungry” (Journal, May 11, 2004)

Whereas the food fight at Leonard Cafeteria caused heavy damage and left both students and Queen’s residence staff fuming, I do not wish to discuss the aftermath, but would like to discuss the possible causes of this food fight.

Although some would say that the cause of this food fight was due to the fact that this particular day was the last day of classes, and signifies of heavy studying, I also believe that this food fight may also be fuelled in part by the anger of the students towards the operations and management of the cafeteria itself.

Despite the fact that Leonard cafeteria was newly renovated, and creates a sense of warmth due to the well-conceived colour schemes and material uses, the cafeteria consistently serves badly cooked food.

Understanding that a “rotations system” for ease of management is needed, and that repetitive food is unavoidable with this type of system, if the quality of the food is better, students would learn to enjoy the food and disregard the rotations and other concerns as a problem.

Instead, the students, in other words, the customers of the cafeteria, are served somewhat unappetizing foods.

The following is a short list of such foods: unthawed beans as side dish, undercooked entrees that are cold to touch, the “Leonard mix”—bell peppers and onions on almost every single dish, whether or not they belong—tofu that is sour and crumbled (signalling long periods of freezing), and strategically named dishes that essentially require a slight change of sauce etc.

In fact, the precise food I was eating when the food fight—of which I had no knowledge—began, was frozen beans that I had attempted to microwave without much success and had planned to discard. Speaking of waste.

Furthermore, the staff and chefs have a great disregard to the well-being of the customers, including cooking using unclean utensils and pans, chefs grunting their disapproval when special minor dietary requests are made, rude comments by card-swiping ladies and dishes rarely made with the posted ingredients and a particular Vegan chef who doesn’t seem to know how to cook. The service to the customers can become so bad that some customers switch to going to Ban Righ on a steady basis just because dealing with the chefs is not a requirement even though the food quality is similar.

Couple the points above with the $8,000 room and board price tag and the knowledge that Kingston Pen’s inmates are probably enjoying their dinners for the cost of commiting a crime, and you get quite a bit of anger and dislike and even hatred for the operations and management. Not very attractive to prospective students either.

To further the problems, there is little to no way for the students to advocate for improvement. The comment boards that are so commonly seen in the entrances of the cafeteria are littered with ideas for improvement. The most popular responses? “We follow a rotations system where the food is rotated according to schedule. Thank you for your response” or “We lack the budget for (blank). However, we do offer (blank). Thank you for your comment.” The most memorable comment that’s been posted at least 10 times: “Can we have some chicken fingers sometime? It’d be great. Thanks. Response: “We lack the budget . . . however we do offer lamb.” And so lamb is less expensive than chicken fingers. My last visit to Food Basics and John’s Deli tells me otherwise. It would be interesting to know where they get the meat.

However, the two surveys during the school year did cause one apparent improvement: the much-welcomed removal of onions from the “Leonard mix,” which they proudly display on a sign.

Obviously, there are deals made between the residence system, the University and Sodexho, since Sodexho gets the use of Leonard as well as an ensured income, however, the customers are still the students eating there, not the University, and if the University has a certain degree of influence on Leonard cafeteria’s operation, there should perhaps be a review board where students can bring major concerns up to. If such a board or committee exists, no one knows of it.

All in all, a reason that the food fight happened in the first place may be because of the date, may be because of excitement that studying will finally begin, but the frustration and anger caused by these underlying problems that exists in the operation and management of Leonard cannot be ruled out.

Maybe McIntosh would consider asking Sodexho to write the students and the residence staff a letter of apology.

By the way, despite what the article may lead the reader to think, most of Sci ’07 was in Ban Righ for post-Ritual supper.

Ray Lau
Sci ’07

Ghetto posters not a thing of the past

Dear Editors,

Re: “Postering laws stifle free speech” (Journal, May 11, 2004)

As both a resident of the Ghetto and as a member of the AMS, I agree that anti-postering bylaws do stifle our rights of free expression. However, what happens when students and local businesses abuse this right? Postering excessively and irresponsibly creates yet another eyesore on our streets and leads to even more trash blowing around our already littered lawns. Some form of poster enforcement, I believe, is in the best interests of both citizens and City officials. Though the AMS supplied the volunteer power to de-poster University Ave., we by no means consider the issue closed.

After negotiating with the City, the AMS Municipal Affairs Commission recently arranged for the installation of postering carousels (and public garbage cans) along University Ave.

While the City is footing the bill for these improvements, it will be the AMS that is operating them. As such, there will be no censorship whatsoever. This idea is being piloted for now, and if successful, will be spread throughout the Ghetto in subsequent years. I assure you that the City’s intentions have more to do with our ugly streetscapes than the suppression of our freedoms. If successful, the negotiated compromise will both respect those freedoms and keep our streets cleaner.

Gord McGuire
Commissioner of Municipal Affairs, Alma Mater Society

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