Letter to the Editor: ASUCLA strives to create flexible dining options on campus to cater to students’ needs
UCLA is a large university with tens of thousands of students, all of whom have distinct food needs and preferences. Every student has different expectations about the food that should be available on campus, and Associated Students UCLA understands this. The Board of Directors constantly wrestles with decisions about how to properly provide for our students – and food service is no exception.
The eight undergraduate and graduate students who constitute a majority of our board share the desires of the greater student body to have quality food available on campus. We do not take this responsibility lightly. Our process for vetting potential food operations is extensive, and we work diligently to ensure our decisions are responsive to student desires.
Last year, we brought Blaze Pizza to the Court of Sciences Student Center. Students had been craving a new, fresh and made-to-order pizza concept since the departure of Sbarro. By opening Blaze Pizza, we were able to cater to that desire while also introducing vegan and lower price point items to students.
We also opened Veggie Grill, the chain’s first-ever shared dining hall location, in Ackerman Union. We wanted to offer a viable and central dining option for students with kosher, halal, vegetarian and vegan diets. Veggie Grill met that need and also helped further our goal of making healthy food more available to students.
When selecting restaurants, we have to manage many competing interests and make reasonable compromises to secure the best outcome for students, staff, faculty and off-campus guests.
As such, we need self-operated restaurants, like those at North Campus Student Center, Lu Valle Commons and Greenhouse – which provides healthy options – to maintain a high level of student employment. We are, after all, dedicated to providing students with positive work experiences. We need affordable restaurants, like Taco Bell and Yoshinoya, to ensure we provide food options for all students. And we need fast and familiar restaurants, like Panda Express and Carl’s Jr., for the many students who desire those options.
The list goes on. Every restaurant we open has a unique purpose in our campus ecosystem.
Most importantly, we always welcome suggestions and feedback from students. Our board meetings in Kerckhoff Hall and our Services Committee meetings in Ackerman Union are open to all. And we highly value the criticism we receive, constructive or otherwise.
A comprehensive list of our service offerings and food operations can be found both on our website at asucla.ucla.edu and via our app, “Associated Students UCLA.”
Kato is the vice chair of the ASUCLA board of directors. Adewumi-Gunn is the chair of the ASUCLA board of directors.