Students ask for swipes at Tuffy’s, the Nest

By Justine Ackerman

If you have ever wished that you could use a meal swipe at the Eagles’ Nest or Tuffy’s, there is a possibility that it could be granted.

“I’m not opposed to looking at using swipes in Tuffy’s or the Eagles’ Nest,” said Matthew Portner, director of Auxiliary Services. “It’s a tough thing…but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be talked about.”

At Student Speak-Up last Tuesday, Portner was asked several questions about the use of Eagle Cards in other capacities. With all of the congestion in Convo at peak hours, it seems reasonable to ask that students be able to disperse themselves across campus.

“We’ve got crowd issues at lunch,” Portner said. “We’re willing to look into it, but I don’t want students saying that they are receiving a lousy deal – you are looking at all-you-can-eat versus a grab and go.”

Portner said that Auxiliary Services will look into the possibility of eating elsewhere on a meal plan, and he wants student senate to be involved.

“It’s not as good of a deal to the students but we can look at it if that’s what they want,” Portner said. “I would be concerned if students were [going elsewhere but Convo] a lot.”

Portner said he worries that students would not be getting the value out of their meal plans and the money they paid for them if they were eating in other areas often, especially if they were not getting enough to eat or making poor meal choices.

“A person with 10 meal plans – I don’t want them getting 10 smoothies,” Portner said.

Another complaint brought up at Student Speak-Up was the inability to swipe in for a guest or friend. Many students want to take their visiting friends or family to Convo; however, watching their loved ones dish out $13 for dinner does not sit well when students are supposed to be the ones hosting.

“How many meals are wasted?” Beth Frisbee, a senior, said. “It’s nice that juniors and seniors get three meals a semester, but why can’t it be four? My parents can’t visit one and a half times.”

Frisbee pays for 15 meals, but normally only uses nine and says it’s too bad the other six can’t be used to her advantage.

Portner says students should compare their meal plans to Rec Center fees that are bundled into tuition. If a student doesn’t use the Rec Center, are they entitled to money back? Portner would say no, because students have the ability to go to the Rec Center and choose not to.

“Students pay housing fees,” Portner said. “Now if they go home for a weekend, are they entitled to waiving fees?”

Portner went on to say that missed or unused meal plans are counted on for Convo’s survival.

“That money helps with daily specials, seafood night or other high-end foods,” Portner said. “If every student used every meal plan, we would have no revenue.”

Portner points out that the university is non-profit and so we spend the money we earn. A reduction in revenue instantly and obviously has an impact on something else.

Portner said he believes that, even if students don’t get to use every meal plan swipe, they are very lucky with what they have.

“Take a look at our menu over a four week cycle,” Portner said. “It’s incredible. Most of our cooking is from scratch and a lot of food is locally produced. We have culinary trained chefs and don’t take breaks – our services are continuous from seven to seven.”

Portner also pointed out that many schools do not have as many stations as AU does and that Convo produces hundreds of meals-to-go every day. Many schools don’t do that, he said, and that is how AU tries to add value.

“I think it’s a good system and the majority benefits,” Portner said. “You can try new things, experiment new flavors and make new things yourself.”