SIT Student Association

The SIT Student Association is the recognized collective voice of the students.

The purpose of SITSA shall be:
1. Advocate for the SIT student body on such issues as student programs, student life, diversity and community.
2. Plan and/or implement and/or finance a varied program of student activities (in collaboration with DOSS when appropriate)
3. Ensure continuity of student representation, i.e work toward achieving progress on long-term or repeated concerns voiced in previous years by SITSA or other representative student organizations.
4. Responsibly disperse budget.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

SITSA and SODEXO Meeting Notes

November 18th 2010 Meeting with Sodexo, SITSA, and Adminstration

In Attendance:

From SITSA: Maggie Dudley, Kristen French, Catherine Bogle, Annie Hostetter, Tonya Pence

Students: Anita, Heidi

Administration: Bob Sousy, Tony Draplick, Michael Smallis, Chris Clark

From Sodexo: John (Sodexo rep), Rob McFarland (area chef from burlington, all of new hampshire to the mass line)

Kristen: Can the students see a copy of the contract?

Bob: No but it covers managing the dining, housing and facilities services. Same rate of pay for employees and the equivalent in benefits. We retain rights to all the decisions regarding staffing, food sources, renovations. We paid a single fee. Legal has advised them to not show a copy of the contract

SITSA: accountability – who is Sodexo accountable to and who will make sure that World Learning and students will be involved in decisions which we retain rights to?

Bob: John will be reporting to Nancy, the CFO. John will be making recommendations. John will be listening for student needs

SITSA: If local farms (like the SIT farm) are not willing to sell, how can we assure the food will be local?

John: World learning will be purchasing and consuming the food, more local. Hampshire college does local food. Want to buy CSA shares from a local farm. Will buy excess produce from farms.

SITSA: If we moved to Sodexo out of a budgetary need, how does it work that we will still be eating local and organic without paying more? I understand that as a large corporation, Sodexo gets cheaper prices because of purchasing power so how does that help in a local food sense?

Bob: We have a fee contract.

John: In a situation where local is important we work on a fee. So sodexo does the cost appraisals for the institution but world learning has the purse strings.

Rob: Will use black river produce. The cost savings from sodexo comes in not from purchasing locally but from being able to negotiate for lower national costs.

SITSA: If this is a price difference, and everything is going to stay the same...

Bob: More than price, it's a service issue as well

Michael: the dean started all of this. He said that in other schools have larger consumption. He thought that Fitzvogt was not providing the best services but we just kept signing contracts with them without looking modernization. Variety of product, modernization. The campus community is larger than students. With Fitzvogt, we kept having to cut services. The facilities were not part of what they were initially looking at.

SITSA (Kristen): students are saying they're not concerned as much with quality, but with the business practices. Sodexo is more known for the bad business practices. We feel they don't represent the mission. Many of us are morally opposed to Sodexo.

Bob: Sodexo has taken steps to correct the wrongs that were brought up 7 years ago. They are trying. They have a pledge to reduce carbon, buying food locally. I think they've gotten it. We have general electric in every room on this campus. they have polluted a lot and aren't even trying to change. How is this different?

SITSA (Catherine): If you're excited about the changes, why wasn't it presented in a more positive manner? Why wasn't the whole process more transparent?

Bob: That was a mistake. It was handled extremely poorly. Sodexo has great track records with schools. The used to be in prisons but they got out of it 7 years ago.

Anita: on your website, the commitment to sustainability doesn't include fair trade.

Ray: It should be because Sodexo has their own fair trade coffee program. Esspreto. We have the only fair trade college campus in Oregon. Emma Willard trying to go fair trade, they have 260 students. Right now we buy equal exchange and they'll try to keep it.

John: We really bonded with Javier. We're going to get newer equipment for El cafe. I want to have you tell me how you want the program to be. I hopes to have a food committee. What products do we want, which farms do we want to buy from, etc.

Ray: For every award, we get slammed in a different ways. Seven years ago he was the chef on campus that did the presentation. Social implications, he didn't understand. Number 2 with latinos. We get hammered because we're the biggest.

SITSA: Accountability. As representatives of the student body, we take this very seriously. We're hearing words but we can't see the contract. We're invested with our dollars and we don't have any assurance that what you see is going to come to fruition. If we can't know that. We need a guiding document. As a public entity and as a

Can we get a document that shows us the rights that world learning retains. How are decisions going to be made? If you're so excited about this why can't we see the contract?

Bob: we can come up with a contract and world learning and sodexo. Needs to be a legal document. Michael wants to deliver a document. He's our advocate. May not be able to give us what we want.

Michael: The standards for Sodexo should not be more than what we have for other things about the school. There should be the same process for grievances that we have with everything else.

Heidi: levels of trust were already broken at the town hall meeting. Disconnect between what Adam Weinberg said and what the kitchen staff said. Why wouldn't that continue to happen?

John: wants everyone to forget about all of the problems. Variety increased, local food increased. As a human being he wants to put a smile on your face and that makes him happy. His job is to respond to student needs, he'll be on campus Monday thru Friday.

Heidi: I don't trust this.

John: I'm a human being. We're more than what you read on the internet. We're not an evil empire. The only way I keep my job is to do what you want.

Anita: what's the give and take with what we can get all year long?

Rob: we can't get things all year long. As a company we purchase food: Sysco, Performance Food and one more are distributors for us. We buy food from a lot of distributors. We don't buy produce from Sysco if we can help it. Avocado from Black river and Sysco are the same. Hates comment cards, he would prefer to have a Chef's table where he meets with students.

SITSA (Maggie): we have a current food committee, which we will be continuing. Keep in mind that El Cafe is a student initiated facility, everything that is there is there because students asked for it and worked for it keep it as student driven.

Michael: It comes down to trust. I'm worried but the minute something goes wrong, we're going to hear about it and that makes me worried. We want to build the trust back up. He wants us involved. This is a honest. He wants us involved. Bottom line is that Sodexo is here, what can we do to make it work from there? Work study students won't lose their jobs. We want to make this a seamless transition. He promises that he will answer to you.

Bob: sorry about the communication and the way this has been handled.

SITSA (Kristen): thanks for the apology, but the contract is important. I'm asking this because students want to see it. Why aren't you showing it to us?

John: the reality is that we don't always see these contracts in the larger world.

SITSA: We really want to see who retains the rights. That's the first contract, the other contract is about accountability. The financial part is only a part, it's the retaining the rights part.

Kristen: a brief run down of how upset the students are talking about the town hall meeting and the many levels of anger.

Anita: Regarding the exodus of students, some students would be willing to stay on campus if there is an option to opt out of the food purchasing. Is that a possibility. How feasible is that?

Michael: not an option. No budging. It's frustrating because I don't want to lose any students. Even though they're angry students have been very respectful.

Anita: the students who have made the decision to move off of campus would like to break the contract without the $450 fee.

Michael: it's kind of like breaking the lease. Finding it hard to believe that all the students researched the food service. Oops, eat my words. There was no breach, we didn't specify the food service in the contract. I get it.

SITSA (Maggie): The website needs to be changed ASAP for students who are currently looking at coming here. The capital contribution/investment/gift that Sodexo is giving, could you explain more?

Bob: Sodexo has agreed to fund $150,000 to use in any manner we would like. It's been our intention to engage the student body on how to use this money.

Michael: there are some areas in serious need of renovations. 3-5 year capital projects. I keep in mind that you'll always be here as part of the community. We're looking at areas but would like to look down the line. Residential.

SITSA (Maggie): is it structured like a loan or is it part of the bid?

Bob: It's a gift. But if we ask them to leave before five years we have to pay it back.

It's a five year contract but we can give a 60 day notice to leave, or Sodexo could give 60 days but if we break the contract in under 5 years we have to pay the $150,000 back.

Anita: what happens if people leave and don't pay?

Bob: you'd be hurting the local farmers.

Rob: hearing these things about Sodexo, I don't believe them. I'm anti-union because you shouldn't have to need a union. Sodexo fed the miners in chile. Rohini heads diversity. You can teach us as much as we can teach you. Will convey the message that Sodexo is still not doing the job.

Bob: my reputation is on the line. I started a socially responsible banking program that did microloans in Vermont. I deeply cares about the state, locally grown products, supporting small businesses, priority to women and minority owned businesses. My reputation is on the line and he doesn't want to risk it so I care about making this work with Sodexo

Heidi: similar assurances in the facilities and maintenance.

John: yes

Rob: greenware, those are going away because when greenware they now have petroleum products so they won't compost. So we want to do get green containers go to a token system for these to go containers.

SITSA (Maggie): if you're having a hard time finding green things, can there be a fleet of students that do approval etc.

Bob: yes

Rob: some comments about the unionizing at UVM . He's not sure if they're unionizing or what.

Catherine: in the second contract (the student written one), it needs to be enforceable. We need to give the students power to change things if they need to be changed. Legitimate power to change what's going on.

Rob: maybe I'm naïve but the accountability piece is so easy for me. Contract has to be a living document. This is a collaborative partnership between us and the students.

Rob: I would ask students to define local. And know the safety of our food sources. Use Annie from Black River to get more local foods.

Heidi: Is Cargill the beef purvayor?

Rob: I'll have to look.

SITSA (Maggie): can we assume local unless we're told?

John: yes

Rob: first choice for commodity foods is the farm center, then black river, then the big guys/

Michael: this dialogue is not done after this meetingthis is a continued dialogue.

Anita: commodity veggies, where do they come from?

Rob: as long as it's being grown, black river will try to get it local.

Anita: would like to maintain the pride and assurances that the food we're ingesting is not farmed ethically.

Rob: because of the mission of world learning. Partrick martin, rob met with him. Went to the field to fork meeting and felt like a leper, but felt great when Patrick said that in order for the slow food movement to survive, you have to get with big food producers like them (Sodexo). Slow food movement is important to me. Can't feed the country without conglomerates. We have a unique opportunity for the students to educate Sodexo, what if you forced Sodexo to change?

Bob: what you're hearing is a commitment to the mission.

SITSA: Need to come up with an accountability contract to give after thanksgiving.

Rob would like us to define sustainability and locality. And some specifics (blank % need to come from local food sources etc. ) be more aggressive and then have to renegotiate.

Bob will look at getting the sodexo contract without the finances. Bob will commit to

When can have the folks from corporate responsibility come and talk.

Anita: (gave some statistic about minorities in managerial positions at Sodexo, it was very low)

Rob: that's surprising, I'll look into that, it seems like that's untrue.

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