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Tuesday, September 26, 2023


Senate to reform dining

The 45th Student Government Association Senate convened for the first time Wednesday and passed legislation to expand the powers of the Food Service Advisory Committee, establish a satisfaction guarantee standard and abolish mandatory meal plans and a resolution to favor reconsidering an alternate coffee vendor in the M.D. Anderson Library.

SGA Senate President Sam Dike said the bill to establish a satisfaction guarantee standard and abolish mandatory meal plans for students living on campus would empower themselves, faculty and staff to reshape UH dining policy.

"If residents are not satisfied with their dining experience, they will be given the option to terminate their meal plan and opt out, ensuring that Aramark finally works for our business and ensuring that they can improve the quality of their food services so that we choose to do business with them," he said.

Dike said the bill to expand FSAC powers would enable the committee to do more than just advise.

"The advising capabilities of this committee are limited to suggestions from year to year that go unheard by the administration and by Aramark. Nothing is being done; we hear the same complaints every year," Dike said.

Dorms on campus are not full because students don’t want to pay $1,000 extra for a mandatory meal plan, SGA Vice President Jonas Chin said.

"We need to make sure students are satisfied on our campus and that it’s guaranteed by Aramark," Chin said.

In regards to the resolution, Chin said that he and Dike would meet with Dean of University Libraries Dana Rooks today to discuss library concerns.The library’s coffee situation has been an issue since the previous SGA Senate administration passed legislation to call for 100 percent fair trade coffee option in the library. He said previous student response was to have a Starbucks, but then student opinion changed.

Sociology freshman Brendan Laws addressed the Senate on behalf of the UH chapter of Students Against Sweatshops and said he was concerned about the creation of the Apparel Task Force concerning the Designated Suppliers Program. The Workers Rights Consortium, an independent labor rights organization, investigates working conditions in factories around the world. Laws said he wanted to know why there was only one student, business senator Stephen Quezada, on the task force.

"I feel like this government is not representing my causes or my group’s causes or the students’ concerns at UH," Laws said.

In January, the 44th SGA Senate administration passed legislation to support the WRC and the Designed Suppliers Program, an outlet of the WRC that works to protect workers that sew university and college apparel. Laws asked Quezada about his involvement in the past administration, asking if he had become "less educated since then" and if he had "lost some facts in his head."

During his report, Quezada said the task force was formed by the recommendation of the Office of Student Affairs and the Office of the Provost upon the passing of the SGA resolution supporting the WRC and DSP. Quezada said as the SGA Speaker, he is not allowed to vote and the primary goal of the task force is to learn about the DSP and WRC.

"The reality is that it is not that easy. There are existing contracts with vendors. There are existing contracts with the retailers here on campus. Finding alternative sources for producers of the sweatshirts and t-shirts… would have ramifications also for the students," Quezada said.

Quezada said the Apparel Task Force members were chosen under the direction of the Office of the Provost and it is not an SGA initiative.

He said he was most likely chosen because he has had no public record of partiality on the issue.

He said a few more students may be asked to participate and questions about the makeup of the task force should be directed to the Office of the Provost.

He also said that he is an accounting major, not an economics major as Laws claimed, and no SAS member had made attempts to contact him with questions or concerns.

However, some SAS members csay that they have and he referred them to the SGA.

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