Hey Gora!

Michael Rhys

UMass Boston is truly surreal.

Every time I run across something that seems odd, I look into the situation only to find out that it isn’t odd, it is outright absurd and unbelievable, even surreal.

I’ve attended sporting events at UMB for many years now, and I have never seen the concession stand open.

On a recent Saturday, April 20, 2002, there were three UMass Boston events occurring simultaneously, and a community basketball event taking place in the gym. There were at least 50 spectators for each of the intercollegiate events and well over 100 spectators for the community event. Also, each sporting event involved at least 50 athletes.

The concession stand was closed.

So well over 300 hundred people are on campus almost every Saturday, and the concession stand is never open.

So I poke around to find out why.

Well, of course you are aware that the Sodexho Corporation has a contract to serve food on this campus. I am told that Sodexho pays a lot of money to the university to have monopolistic control of food service on this campus. Apparently, no one else is allowed to serve hot food.

Sodexho is one of the large corporations that bids on this contract. Sodexho, it seems, is attempting to make a profit, and bids low and then only targets high profitability areas for attention.

Athletes? Not profitable enough.

Spectators? Not profitable enough.

The community? Not profitable enough.

Reportedly, Wit’s End, the student run coffee shop, had requested permission to sell food and beverages at the UMB concession stand on Saturdays during sporting events. They were told that they wouldn’t be allowed to use any of the dormant Sodexho equipment because of insurance reasons, and would only be allowed to sell cold food and beverages.

So the University of Massachusetts has made a pact with an international corporation to serve food to students and the community only when it meets the profitability guidelines of that international corporation.

Hey, Chancellor Gora, want to know how to build community and team spirit? Sell me an overpriced hot dog with a little mustard during a softball game. Or let students sell the hungry masses some hot dogs during softball games.

Either way, stop putting a corporation’s lust for profits above the sanity and well being of the community and our guests.

Allowing Sodexho, the contracted food supplier, to refuse to supply food is absurd. Allowing Sodexho to refuse to supply food and allowing them to prevent anyone else from supplying food is surreal.

Michael Rhys

CAS, ’03