Starting on February 2, SA will be conducting a survey regarding dining options in the Student Union. The goal is to gauge student interest in the various dining establishments in the Student Union and to get suggestions for changes, such as different operating hours.
The idea for the survey originates from a November 14 meeting between SA’s Student Investigative Committee (SIC) and Mike Neal, TU’s Director of Dining Services. Joey Zitzman, the SIC chair, developed an initial sample survey to be given at the Student Experience Council on November 30. The goal of this survey was to make sure there would not be any problems when the survey was expanded to the student body at large.
That sample survey asks several questions, including favorite restaurant, how often one dines at the Student Union and how satisfied one is with the current dining options. It also has a section for people to rank the different restaurants from “Strongly Like” to “Strongly Dislike.” Finally, the survey also asks about expanding restaurant operating hours and increasing menu options.
Thirty people completed the sample survey. The class distribution was fairly equal among undergraduates. Sophomores and juniors were the least represented with twenty percent each and seniors were the most represented at thirty percent.
Chick-fil-A had the most respondents for favorite restaurant, with 33.3 percent of respondents selecting it. Einstein Bros. Bagels followed with 26.7 percent, Tossed with 20 percent, Benvenutos with 16.7 percent, Star Ginger with 10 percent, Subway and Baja Jacks both at 6.7 percent, Pizza Hut with 3.3 percent, and Sushi Blu at 0 percent.
Restaurants also received a net favorability rating based on what description people gave in the survey. The options were “Strongly Like,” “Like,” “Neutral,” “Dislike” and “Strongly Dislike.” Those options were given a numerical value of 2, 1, 0, -1 and -2, respectively. Chick-fil-A and Subway each had a net favorability rating of 34; Benvenutos 21; Baja Jacks 20; Tossed 18; Subway 16; Sushi Blu 4; Star Ginger 1; Pizza Hut -11.
70 percent of students want Chick-fil-A, which closes at 2:30, to stay open later. Einstein’s received 46.7 percent; Benvenutos and Tossed each 30 percent; Star Ginger 20 percent and Sushi Blu and Baja Jacks each 6.7 percent. Subway and Pizza Hut were not included because they are both already open fairly late (11:00 PM).
70 percent of students also indicated that they wanted more menu options at Chick-fil-A. At both Baja Jacks and Star Ginger, 23 percent of students want more options. 20 percent want more options at Pizza Hut. Benvenuto’s and Einstein’s both received 16.7 percent of the vote. Tossed had 13.3 percent. Subway and Sushi Blu each had 10 percent.
The survey did not actually suggest new menu options, though. Rather, students were able to write in what they wanted. Most of the suggestions were unique, as might be expected with an open ended response. However, 16.7 percent of respondents wanted spicy chicken sandwiches at Chick-fil-A. Other Chick-fil-A recommendations included milkshakes and breakfast.
The survey that will be released on Thursday is mostly similar to the sample survey. The biggest change is that it asks people who disliked or strongly disliked any restaurants why they selected them as such. It also contains a spot to put one’s name, email address and student ID number. The purpose of that is so that students can enter a drawing for one of four $25 Amazon gift cards. The funding for the cards came out of the University Collaborations section of SA’s budget and was allocated by the SA Senate.
The survey will probably be conducted in both paper and electronic form. Some copies of the survey will be passed out, and it will also be distributed through all-school email and on SA’s website. The survey is expected to be open through February 10, but it will go as long as is needed for the 220 student goal to be achieved. The results are expected to be available about a week after the survey closes.
The survey is of course nonbinding and won’t necessarily result in change. However, Zitzman said that Neal and Sodexo are both “open to hearing from the Students for any restaurants at the Union” and that “Dining has seen and given their metaphorical stamp of approval for the survey. Sodexo has stated that the results of the survey will be given due consideration with themselves and necessary parties.”