Fight Club hungry for change

By Gus Bode

More than a hundred letters have been sent to Fight Club containing dining hall food concerns, and the group hopes to find solutions to the problems.

Fight Club – a student group focused on bringing attention to campus issues affecting students – is working with the university to make a change in dormitory food, said Matt Picchietti, one of the group’s leaders.

“The dining hall food was one of the most popular issues on campus and must be addressed in a timely manner,” he said.

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Picchietti, a junior from Champaign studying psychology, said dining food is only one element of Southern at 140 – the group’s 14-point plan to address student issues on campus by May 2008.

Picchietti, who is also an Undergraduate Student Government senator, said the group is responding to letters it received from students.

Out of a few hundred letters Fight Club received, Picchietti said 104 dealt with dining hall issues. He said the four major concerns were extending dining hours, the point system, variety in food and swiping student IDs for guests.

“The number one thing was extending the hours,” he said. “We felt that students want the dining halls open at least until 9 p.m.”

Picchietti said he met with Peggy Connors, associate director of University Housing for Residence Hall Dining, March 28 to discuss possible resolutions to these issues.

Connors said the university looked into similar issues in January after receiving results from the National Association of College and University Food Services customer service satisfaction survey and comment cards filled out by students. The university ran focus groups March 27 and 28 to look into the issues, she said.

Connors said the university wants to help fulfill some of the requests of students, but it takes time.

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She said issues such as the point system and quality of food is a matter of communication between staff and students, while extended hours and guest swiping require more work and problem solving by the university.

She said 49 different entr´┐Żes are offered to students for lunch and dinner in a five-week period.

“What we tend to find out is that if students only like a few things and those few things are there, but then there’s nothing else that they really like or want to try, it seems like there’s no variety,” she said.

Picchietti said there is work to do in regard to these issues and is waiting to hear from Connors to see what can be done to rectify any problems. He said he was glad students wrote to Fight Club because it shows an open line of communication with students and officials.

“The best way to make the dining hall the best as possible is going to be the lines of communication between student leaders and administrators,” Picchietti said.

Not all students seem to be distraught over dining hall food.

Aaron Gillespie, a junior from St. Louis studying radio-television, said he lives in Thompson Point and frequently eats at Lentz Dining Hall. He said he was content with the quality of food, but tends to stay away from the hamburgers because they seem boiled.

“It’s not as bad as everyone says it is,” he said. “But by no means is it gourmet.”

Connors said she is willing to work with Picchietti to try and get student issues addressed.

“If Fight Club can help do this, I think it’s a great idea,” she said.

[email protected] 536-3311 ext. 268

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