Chartwells’ corporate office is asking student opinion. A rating system has been placed near the door of the Great Hall consisting of a panel of smiley face buttons headed by questions concerning food and service. The happy faces on the panel are meant to gauge high or moderate satisfaction, whereas the frowny faces indicate discontent. The system was put there two weeks before term started this year and will remain for the foreseeable future. If students aren’t involved in the well-loved sport of seeing how many frowny faces they can press as they pass by, they may pause to ask themselves: “How much of a voice do we actually have?”
When asked how it feels to have students rank their service and food right in front of them at every meal, many Chartwells greeters said that they were unaffected emotionally and practically by the student evaluations.
Kurt Peper, the assistant director of Chartwells at Covenant, said employees “love feedback, even negative feedback. They respond well to it.” But do the employees actually ever see the evaluation results?
Ross Lochstampf, Chartwells chef, said he “doesn’t at all expect” the reviews of the rating system, which go straight to corporate, to reach the staff here at Covenant. However, this emoji-paneled system is not the only student evaluation that Chartwells undergoes. Once a semester, Chartwells asks students to fill out an iPad survey.
Every time Peper receives survey results, he said they are relayed to the staff through meetings he conducts. Cindy Duncan, a Chartwells greeter, notes that her job is affected very little from review meetings such as these. Sheila Blaylock, another greeter, said that besides the daily pre-service pep talk, she could recall no meetings to review student surveys at all.
Despite the apparent lack of communication among Chartwells employees, there is evidence of improvement in many aspects of Chartwells and, based on many reports from seniors, a consequent upswing in positive opinion. Blaylock and Lochstampf attribute the shift to the Great Hall’s improved aesthetics since the Carter renovations, which took place between 2015 and 2017. Tom Schreiner, director of business operations who oversees Chartwells on Covenant campus, takes a different view.
Schreiner said that the positive attention is due to Covenant and Chartwells’ responsiveness to student desires.
“We were terrible in the healthy food options; I think we have improved a lot,” said Schreiner. “Our variety was bad; I think we have a pretty good variety now. Now, I think it’s moving toward quality. I want every station to be high quality so that everything you go to; you would be willing to pay for it.”
Schreiner said that students can have a voice if they want one. Surprisingly, he promotes the practice of rating by extremes: "These ratings are the ones that count for something," he said.
Additionally, Schreiner emphasized the role of the food service committee, made up of members of the student senate who meet yearly with Schreiner and Chartwells leadership to discuss student desires. Schreiner said the group is “extremely influential.” All-day cereal and waffles are results attributed to these meetings.
Sophomore Sarah Walters said, “A lot of time the chicken looks good, but it turns out to be so dry that I can’t eat it. I feel bad wasting it. Also, it seems like there is curry on every other dish. Even from last year, though, I can see that they have gotten better. Maybe they’ve been listening to our reviews, I don’t know.”
Though many students still find major fault with Chartwells, according to staff and student testaments, there have been and will continue to be improvements. Schreiner encourages any student with suggestions for positive alteration to speak to a member of Student Senate on the food service committee, reiterating that they do, in fact, have a voice.