By Ehlayna Napolitano NEWS EDITOR Prices were lowered on Hofstra’s campus today after student dissatisfaction resulted in an acceleration of a previously planned change, according to Lackmann officials. In an email sent out Monday morning, Lackmann Director of Dining Services Dennis Lestrange formally announced a blanket five percent decrease in prices campus-wide, effective Tuesday. According to the email, plans for the decrease were scheduled for January, but after recent student feedback Lackmann expedited the implementation of lower prices in all 18 dining facilities across campus. Although there were initial questions about the feasibility of the plan’s implementation ahead of schedule, Lackmann staff confirmed to Hofstra last week that the plan was possible. “They assured us on Thursday that they could. We went ahead and did it,” said Joseph Barkwill, Hofstra’s vice president for Facilities and Operations. Barkwill stated that the decrease is essentially rolling prices back to levels that are equivalent to about 2010 or 2011, as price increases over the past few years have averaged about 1.94 percent per year. From last year to this year, the increase was 1.96 percent. Hofstra staff has investigated several issues, like quality and pricing, which were raised primarily by the Student Government Association (SGA) last year, Barkwill said. This research included price comparisons that were made by Barkwill’s staff by going to about 10 locations off-campus, including other universities, as well as businesses like Walgreens and 7-Eleven. “What we found is Dutch Treats is very high,” Barkwill said. The email sent Monday noted that the plan for the price drop was a part of the plans moving forward after the conclusions of the research. Student reactions following Monday’s announcement have varied. “I think it’s great that there’s a five percent decrease… Any decrease is great, especially for college students, but it doesn’t solve the issues originally complained about,” said Marc Yaniello, a sophomore broadcast journalism major. He expressed doubt that the increase would help with larger issues of student concern over food health and safety. Similarly, Alex Cain, a sophomore information technology major, felt it was a positive development, but still maintained reservations about it. “I think it’s a step in the right direction but a slap in the face to students, because we’re talking about pennies on the dollar,” Cain said. He said he felt the decrease was not significant enough. Josh Metlzer, a freshman biochemistry major, also expressed the feeling that it was not enough. “A five percent drop is just a little underwhelming for a lot of people,” Metlzer said. The decrease comes as part of larger plans for change on Hofstra’s campus, in an increased effort to encourage student input and test new programs for students. Among these changes is a new “mobile ordering” app, that would allow students to place an order and pay for it before going to pick it up from the location, according to Andrew Lackmann, the CEO of Lackmann Culinary Services. According to Lackmann, the initial implementation of the app will be at select locations, in order to ensure its effectiveness.“We want to make sure we’re doing the right thing,” Lackmann said. In order to create this new system, Lackmann said that the company will create separate preparation stations within the location for orders sent in through the app. There will be a reconfiguring of responsibilities and staff, as well as the hiring of some additional staff to make this happen. The app has been implemented at other schools, including New York University Polytechnic School of Engineering, where Lackmann said the system worked successfully. Further, Lackmann noted that student input and feedback will be integral to the implementation of the app, especially in what locations on campus would be best for the app’s use. So far, students have expressed hope for the app. “I would be very curious to see how it works,” Cain said. “It’s interesting and I would be willing to use it.” Metlzer also said he believes it would be welcomed by students. “I think that’s a really cool service if they can implement it well,” he said. Barkwill and Lackmann both stressed the importance of student feedback in all areas of their operations at Hofstra. “It really comes down to feedback… representing all the different constituencies,” Lackmann said. He said that the company aims to represent and help with the needs of everyone on campus. Other plans for next semester include the implementation of a possible buffet-style brunch one day a week. SGA proposed the idea for a buffet-style, all-you-can-eat option to Lackmann representatives. “Our goal is to try things… We want to see, ‘Does it work?’ and get your feedback,” Lackmann said. “If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work.” Student feedback has been the catalyst for the price decrease as a result of student dissatisfaction over recent weeks. Feedback, Barkwill said, has been an important instigator of change in the past. The location of the sushi bar, as well as vegan and kosher options on campus have been the result of mobilization of student opinions. The reactions, as a result of health violations reported in the past two weeks, have spurred change within the Lackmann environment and are taken very seriously, accordng to Barkwill. In addition to the price decrease and announcement of the app, these changes have included the hiring of a new director of operations and the desire for more transparency for students through postings of health and safety procedures on Lackmann’s website, as well as postings of menus and allergy information. “The safety and welfare of students is critical,” Lackmann said. Student feedback has been crucial to the development of plans and changes in Lackmann’s services on campus and has resulted in changes within the past few weeks. “It’s a wake-up call for all of us,” Barkwill said.
Additional reporting by Lauren del Valle