A new fireplace, a Starbucks, and even a new 3D printer in the library. Bethel students were welcomed back to school by many campus-wide changes that took place over the summer. But there’s one change that doesn’t seem to be so welcoming after all.
Sodexo, the company that provides food and other catering needs for the Acorn, Sufficient Grounds, and the Dining Commons, has recently revealed a few changes to policies regarding meal swipes and location hours.
The Acorn, Bethel’s sandwich shop and all-around hangout, is now closed between 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. Sufficient Grounds, a favorite late night study spot for many students, is now closing an hour earlier, closing at 10:00 p.m. rather than 11:00 p.m.
That may not sound like a big deal, but according to Brad Comden, a worker at Sufficient Grounds, students are actually pretty upset about the loss of that hour.
“Oh yeah, there’s been complaints,” said Comden. “‘Cause people love coming in late to get a snack and leave.”
Comden said that he himself misses the extra hour to wind down before heading back to his dorm.
“(I used to) love to go over there and study ‘till about 11:00, and then I would start winding down after then. But now I’ve got to cut it short at around 10:00. I’m not a big fan of it,” he said.
Student reactions have been similar. I’ve heard numerous complaints from students wondering about the odd Acorn shutdown in the middle of the day. According to Jim Metherd, Sodexo food services manager, the Acorn’s shortened hours came from a “specific direction given from Bethel College administration.”
Senior Director of Auxillary Services Ed Bernhard was unavailable for comment on this subject.
Another change doesn’t affect the majority of students, but just the student workers at the various food service locations: student workers no longer get a free meal during their shifts.
When asked why that was changed, Metherd said, “Because no other department on campus that has student workers provide meals. That’s why we’ve done that.”
Metherd made it clear that Sodexo is not the sole decision maker in these changes.
“Let’s sum it up by saying that no decision is made pertaining to the food service department just by Sodexo,” he said. “Nothing is made just by us. We partner with Bethel College and we operate the food service program on their behalf.”
Comden said that he feels like a majority of students are upset about the changes.
“I feel like people like having a coffee shop open longer than (shorter),” he said. “The longer (hours) don’t affect them if they don’t want to go, so it’s kind of a neutral thing, but taking away that hour for the people who do want to go at that time, it’s definitely a negative.”
As for exactly why the changes have taken place, Comden speculated that it may be simply be because Sodexo didn’t feel it was worth keeping the restaurants open during those times when not many students are there.
“Think about how many people you’re employing at that time, they’re not making enough money to justify the five people coming in,” he said.
But interestingly, Comden mentioned that not only have SG and Acorn employees’ hours been cut, but Learning Commons attendants’ hours have been cut dramatically. Attendants now don’t come in before 5:00 p.m.
So maybe it’s not just Sodexo, but a campus-wide cut in hours to save money. But there’s one thing for sure, that favorite late-night cappuccino may not be able to be quite so late-night anymore.