Students responded Monday to an email from Sodexo’s General Manager, Mary Sossaman, about a new event called “Bodacious Burgers” with 27 comments, many of which were in agreement to an outward protest of the dining event and new dining policies. The event would have cost students an extra $5 on top of swiping their student ID.
Four hours after the initial email announcing the event, “Bodacious Burgers,” sophomore Hayden Reynolds hit the reply all button and emailed all undergraduates at PLNU in protest of the event, telling the students to go to In-N-Out instead to save money and that these burgers should be served at every meal for the normal meal price.
“I thought it was ridiculous that they would make us pay even more money for a meal that we already pay a ton of money for,” said Reynolds in an email. “I redid the math and I am paying $12 per meal already, enough for most restaurant quality burgers. Then for them to jack that price up another five dollars makes it the most expensive burger I would have ever eaten.”
Instead of sending the email to just Sossaman, he said he felt that he could rally up the students to make a change by sending it to all the undergraduates.
“Our generation is pretty bought into the idea that things are the way they are and that we can’t do anything to change that,” said Reynolds. “When I sent that email to the entire student body, I was hoping to rally the students to make a change in the Caf for the better.”
For the Bodacious Burger Event, diners could choose from six burgers cooked with Angus beef and their choice of waffle fries or onion rings. The event was only planned to be for three and a half hours on the 11th. Included in the email was a one-dollar-off coupon.
After student response to Reynold’s email, including multiple students writing fragments of the lyrics to Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up,” Information Technology Services shut down the email thread around 3 p.m. that day.
Chief Information Officer, Corey Fling, said the option to send out a campus-wide email is only available to certain administrators and should not have been accessible to students.
“Once we identified that it was happening, we disabled that ability and corrected the bug,” said Fling.
After the initial email about the new event, Sossaman started receiving a large amount of emails, most of them negative, according to Cindy Chappell, PLNU campus liaison for Sodexo.
“[I]t is unfortunate that there has been some miscommunications and bad feelings related to dining services over the past few weeks,” said Chappell via email. “It is also very unfortunate that Sodexo’s General Manager, Mary Sossaman, has been the brunt of angry and nasty comments from some students during this time.”
Chappell also said that because of the unusual amount of emails as well as the state of the messages to Sossaman, Sossaman was not able to comment on the situation in person without approval from Chappell.
“We want to allow Mary the opportunity to focus on her primary role on campus – managing all the food service operations,” said Chappell via email. “So we agreed that Mary could defer some of the student inquiries to me as the campus liaison for the time being.”
A sign in Nicholson Commons on Wednesday stated that the event and a similar event, “Crave American” scheduled for Oct. 28, were postponed until further notice.
Chappell sent out another email the same day repealing information that Residential Life would be enforcing the latest community service policy.
“To clarify, PLNU’s ResLife team (RDs, RAs, Jeff Bolster) are not involved in implementing community service hours in the dining room,” said Chappell in the email to students. “That was a miscommunication. However, Sodexo does actively collaborate with ResLife, ASB and many other campus departments in a variety of creative and positive ways and will continue to do so.”
After several attempts to talk to her in person, Sossaman received the approval to respond to the Point Weekly about what comes next.
“The earlier email message focused on community service and Caf rules, resulted in a lot of confusion and bad feelings, and we are very sorry for this miscommunication,” said Sossaman in an email. “As Cindy Chappell stated in her email, she and I are planning to meet with students and student leader groups to work together to address issues surrounding dining policies and procedures.”
According to both Sossaman and Chappell, they are now in the process of working with ASB, Student Senate, Residential Life, and other student groups to receive feedback on what changes they need to make to ensure students are satisfied with their dining experience.
“I am optimistic about the outcome of such collaboration,” said Chappell.