Despite increased sales, many dislike new DDS

by Andrew Allport | 11/4/97 6:00am

Dartmouth Dining Services has made a number of changes this term in an effort to recover from massive losses in past years, but many students said the only new things about DDS are longer lines and less quality.

DDS, which lost over $900,000 in the past two years, has changed the operating hours of campus dining halls in order to attract more students. Most notably, the Collis Cafe is now closed on weekends, and the hours of Topside convenience store have been extended to 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday, as well as during exams.

Food Court in Thayer Dining Hall no longer serves breakfast, but Home Plate now offers a Sunday brunch. Also, as a result of staff layoffs, Food Court closes from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

DDS Director Tucker Rossiter said all of these changes grew out of joint suggestions made in staff meetings.

The changes seem to have had a positive effect for DDS thus far, as Rossiter said September sales were 20 percent higher than last year, and October sales were up about 8 percent. Although Rossiter said it was too early to make a statement about expected net gains this year, he did say that he expects DDS to "get out of the red."

"Students seem to be responding well to these changes," Rossiter said. DDS is aiming to increase total sales by 10 percent this year, which would he said would "make us very happy."

Student reaction has been mixed. While many appreciate some of the new hours and offerings, the increased dining fees and crowds at DDS establishments are unpopular with students..

Alexa Burneikis '98 said she was inconvenienced by the hours in Food Court, because 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. "is when a lot of people eat their lunch."

Zaira Zafra '98 agreed that the Food Court hours were bad, but applauded the new extended hours at Topside, which she called convenient for "a late night snack."

The mandatory, non-refundable dining balance is unpopular with students who remember the refundable DBA of past years.

Ben Berk '00 said he thinks the non-refundable DBA is just a way for DDS to make up for past business mistakes. "DDS should have to work on supply and demand, just like any other business," he said.

Rossiter admitted the non-refundable DBA is a policy intended to increase students' spending levels, but said most students spend all of their DBA money anyway. Rossiter also denied that DDS is trying to make up money for past years, saying "we've put that behind us."

Students expressed other grievances, especially about the crowding at peak hours in DDS establishments.

Rich Dickinson '00 said Collis has become too crowded, while Scott McArt '01 said "the lines everywhere get really long" at mealtimes.

McArt also cited the high levels of waste of paper at Collis and the Courtyard Cafe in the Hopkins Center -- where plates and utensils are all disposable.

Although Rossiter acknowledged that waste is a problem, he said it is not going to be resolved soon, because "Collis does not have room to deal with the massive amounts of dishes and silverware that are generated in a place like Food Court."

Not all of the student reaction to the DDS changes was negative, though.

Dickson said the waffles in Collis were "definitely a plus."

Collis also removed its daily entrees in favor of an omelet and stir-fry service, which Dickinson said made it "more mainstream then last year." Jon Lloyd '98 agreed, stating that he did not go to Collis last year, but now goes because of the sandwiches

Students' opinions seemed to be summed up by Zafra, who said DDS "isn't perfect, but it's getting better -- slowly."