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Glitches Delay Review of Institute Dining

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& R      0 `      @   r ` a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r     *     '  "    o!:csBy Douglas E. Heimburger Staff ReporteR The dining review working group will be unable to finish its review of dining options on campus until April because of delays in the focus group process of its review. The group, chaired by Director of the Campus Activities Complex Philip J. Walsh, held focus workshops with students last week to solicit opinions and map out how students dine on campus. Workshops with faculty and staff were originally also scheduled to occur during the first week of December but were pushed back because of the "mechanics of just trying to put this together," Walsh said. Next week, the group will hold its first focus workshops with randomly selected faculty and staff to get additional data, Walsh said. As a result of the delays, the group's final report will likely not be available until April, Walsh said. "The original deadlines were self-imposed," he said. Still, the group is "intent on moving for closure as soon as possible," he said. Group happy with student input In November, the group visited all MIT residences and a sample of independent living groups to learn about the living patterns of students and how students dine on campus, Walsh said. Two hundred people participated in the meetings, which brought new ideas to the group. "Students consistently brought up things [the group] might not have thought of," Walsh said. Participants in the group represented members of the community as a whole."We didn't hear anything from the focus workshops that we didn't hear in the open meetings," said John S. Hollywood G, a member of the working group. Students in the open forums emphasized price, quality, and time overwhelmingly in their comments, he said. Group to focus next on operations After gathering community input, the working group will turn its focus to the operational and financial concerns of food services at MIT and will begin talking to people outside the Institute, Walsh said. "We're starting to shift our focus to talking to people in the [food-services] industry,"he said. The group is looking at trends in the industryto see what new ideas have been tried recently on campuses, like authentic international cuisine, Walsh said."& Dan McGuire)/-t E F\7And MIT is on the bleeding edge, with Networks Tacos... The group is also looking at alternatives to Aramark. The group has hosted one institutional food-services provider on campus for a review recently and hopes to bring in others in the future, Walsh said. The group is visiting other area campuses to learn more about other college dining plans, Walsh said. The group has already visited Harvard University and plans to visit other schools. Group looks at meal plans The dining group is reviewing MIT's meal plans, Walsh said. Currently, students are not required to purchase meal plans, which are valid at Institute dining facilities. "Our model here is something unique in that there isn't an established board plan," Walsh said. "MIThas a declining balance system and once had a mandatory board plan. Those are two extremes, and there is a lot in the middle," he said. Several models will be submitted to the community for input, Walsh said. "It's not like you're going to wake up one morning and hear the dining review group has decided all students will be on a 21-meal-per-week board plan,"Hollywood said. Models to be available next term The working group hopes to have a list of proposals on how to organize dining available at the beginning of spring term for input, Walsh said. While they are nearly ready now, the models will not be released to the community during the Independent Activities Period since many students are away during the month. "There is a need to make sure that as many members of the community are here" as possible when the group is soliciting discussion on the ideas, Walsh said. The models will be very detailed, Hollywood said."It won't be like ROTC [where there were a few overall options]; there will be a separate set of options for things like operations," Hollywood said."+. Dan McGuire)/-t G< Fl The group is currently developing a list of 10-12 broad areas where models will be formed, Hollywood added. The group will use volunteers in each dormitory to solicit input on the proposals. "We have a list of 40 to 50 people who expressed an interest in helping with the program,"Hollywood said. MTcommunity members will also be able to submit comments to the group via the World Wide Web and e-mail, Hollywood said. After comments are received, the group will formulate a model that incorporates as many comments as possible and that satisfies community members concerned with dining at the nstitute, Walsh said. "We're committed to doing as much as necessary to get a system the community wants,"Hollywood s a i d .  d      R        k  "   p   '   !m9d`% 6      5 - 8  K    S  3   8 9˓ ms?g5$'Lt$R\R_-VJ^ %޴ H[9@G$0