Canteen reorganisation plans withdrawn
RUG president Sibrand Poppema choose to compromise when it became clear during a meeting with the University Council that staff and student factions don’t see the point of the plans to reorganise and outsource the canteens and restaurants.
Along with the Science Faction, the Staff Faction fails to see the need for outsourcing the restaurants and canteens. Staff and students are actually quite satisfied with the current offerings of sandwiches, soups and coffee, according to the faction. The catering locations, meeting and lunch services, diners and buffets all scored a 6.5 or 6.6 in a customer satisfaction survey. ‘Aside from that, outsourcing often results in dissatisfied employees’, says Staff Faction member Dinie Bouwman.
The student factions are not opposed to outsourcing per se, but they do not see the benefit of the current plans, which propose replacing the large canteens with smaller businesses such as Satebar, Tostiworld, Has Döner Kebab and Starbucks. ‘Students really just want a simple cheese sandwich, not deluxe sandwiches with capers and tuna’, SOG faction chairperson Alexander van ‘t Hof argues.
According to Lijst Calimero, students are more interested in simple options for a low price: ‘We don’t want students to suddenly have to pay so much more for a warm meal.’
According to Poppema, it costs ten of thousands of euros to keep the canteens running. ‘That is money that could otherwise go toward education and research.’ What’s more, international students are reportedly less satisfied with the current food and drinks on offer in the restaurants.
But he was unable to persuade the factions. They feel that the RUG must ensure that students and staff can have reasonable quality food. And customer satisfaction will improve on its own if the RUG reinvests in its staff, which is something that has been deliberately avoided in recent years.
For Poppema, it became clear at that point that there was insufficient support for the reorganisation plans, and he chose to withdraw the notice. That does not mean that outsourcing and restructuring are off the table, but it does mean that all possible options are once again under consideration. It was decided to approach local and national caterers about how they see the future of the RUG’s canteens. After doing so, Poppema will submit a new plan to the University Council.