Many student clubs and organizations coordinate events and activities on campus that provide a sense of community and unique learning experiences for the Troy student body.
In most cases, these organizations operate with the money allocated to them for student activities or often with money they raise from these events and from their members.
Some of these events are planned to be parties or meetings where the respective organization provides food for the people in attendance. Now as any other group, they look for the best deals, keeping in mind the interest of their members.
Oftentimes, the best catering option for them is not on campus and they look to buy food from other outlets. Unfortunately for them, there seems to be a lack of clarity concerning campus catering on the viability of ordering food from anywhere except Sodexo.
Jeremiah Baky, a senior political science major from Dauphin Island and president of the Students for Liberty organization, said, “I have a problem with administration making students pay facilities fees and tuition to use the academic and social areas of campus, and then going even further to make student groups buy from limited menus from Sodexo for on-campus events, instead of allowing students to support local businesses for their meetings. All of this after making students purchase a meal plan under the same contracts with Sodexo. Competition for on campus dining would drive down costs and/or improve quality, like any other interaction in an open market.”
This issue has affected many student event plans. Student organizations have shied away from hosting events on campus because of this. Clayton Graham ,a sophomore psychology major from Moulton, said, “Some groups I have been a part of have met in venues that are off campus just because of this issue.”
While there are a few groups that actually take such measures, some of them just have small events where they bring in food without informing Sodexo. In most cases, it seems that there are other alternatives for students that are easier than to go through the entire process.
It seems that smaller clubs or organizations that are just finding ground at Troy have been the main victims of this issue.
This especially holds true for small scale events where the organizations either want to prepare their own food or are hosting events where the food items they have in mind wouldn’t be suitable to cater.
Just last month, I attended an event where as I later found out, snacks were served that didn’t come through campus catering. One of the students involved later told me that because of the nature of the event they were hosting, it was a more viable for them to bring their own food than to buy from Sodexo.
If it is indeed safety standards that we are worried about, we should work together to come up with an acceptable safety standard that the students could adhere to rather than give one organization complete monopoly over food services in the institution.
In any case, there should be a clarity on the reasoning behind various rules regarding catering to events for campus organizations. Many student leaders themselves don’t know what the exact rule is, making it difficult for the organizations to address it effectively.
I believe that we as a school need to reevaluate this and try to create an environment where student organizations are free to choose where they buy their food from based on their wants. But more specifically, we need to firstly let them know exactly what the rules are and the merit of them so that we can properly identify the issue we need to welcome or address.