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Original art for The Clerk by Nava Mach '27

Students’ Council Minutes 4/16/2024

Attendance: Jorge, Maria, Anagha, Erin, Thea, Emma, Mike Boyle

Agenda: Link To Agenda 

  1. Call to order (9:00-9:02) 
  2. Roll Call (9:02-9:05)
  3. Adoption of Agenda (9:05-9:06)
  4. Approval of Minutes (9:06-9:07)
  5. Community Comments (9:07-9:17)
  6. Old Business (9:17-9:27)
  7. New Business 1 (9:27-9:42): Mike Boyle 
    1. Mike Boyle, Senior Director of Auxiliary and Administrative Services, oversees various policies on campus regarding safety. Mike Boyle oversees the Raw Food Policy, the verification of COI, and other regulations that have limited the food ordering of affinity groups and other student orgs. 
  8. Adjournment (9:57-10:00)

Call to Order

Jorge: I call this meeting to order at 9:05am.

Emma: More than half of Exec board is in attendance. Quorum has been met.

Jorge: I move to adopt the agenda. I also move to approve the minutes. Any concerns? The agenda is adopted and the minutes are approved. 

Mike Boyle

Jorge: The business of the day will be to talk about different policies of the school regarding funding, clubs, and affinity groups. A lot of these questions will be coming from the co-treasurers.

Anagha: All of our questions are about the new food policies that a lot of students are confused about. We want to get some clarification. To start, can you give us some brief background on what the raw food policy stemmed from?

Mike: I would hesitate to call it a raw food policy, it is more just an overarching food safety policy. That’s never been a practice to provide with raw food, that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. As far  as the policy, you can’t come to the DC and ask for raw food to prepare yourself. If you get sick or whoever prepared it does it’s just a food safety policy. 

Anagha: In the context of food being brought in, that is a separate situation from if StuCo funding is used to purchase food items. It is hard to know what falls into categories of what is not safe or safe and when students are able to buy those food items.

Mike: Just to be as clear as I can, safe foods students can purchase without any approval are ones that are shelf stable with ingredients listed on them. Like a box of poptarts, while they do expire, they have the ingredients and allergens listed. Whereas, there was a request recently about trying to have a smoothie night and then there are foods that could be an issue. While smoothies aren’t dangerous, if you leave milk or fruit out there is an opportunity for foodborne illness. Instead of making smoothies, we said maybe connect with a smoothie vendor. There is not an intention to say no to an event, we just want to keep everyone as safe as possible. I appreciate the frustration because the chances of something happening are probably minimal. Liability has to be on the side of extreme caution. The issue becomes, when it is college or StuCo funding, that’s where it becomes essentially dining services if there is food provided by the college.

Erin: What about frozen foods? We had a couple clubs requesting frozen things they were going to store. Does that fall under fresh or raw foods?

Mike: Everything depends. I’m sorry I can’t give clear answers. If you went to buy frozen shrimp, that is a different story than frozen broccoli, the risk potential is very different. It depends a lot on the request.

Anagha: Our main challenge is how do we navigate this food policy in the context of culturally focused groups wanting to host events with food items where there isn’t an alternative option? How can student groups still share their cultural foods and still abide by food safety policies?

Mike: I don’t believe I have said no to any of those requests. 

Anagha: We said no before they could get to you.

Mike: I have been essentially approving a catering request that we could not provide at the DC for food that was culturally relevant or religiously significant. I will tell you, on a separate note, I am trying to expand our menu so we can do that for folks in a cost effective way. One of the things worth noting is that we are not limited by our culinary skill, it’s the ability to get those menus into our system. Those are the limitations we are working through so that in the future we won’t have to go to all these other places. I am never going to get everything, hopefully we can get to a better place.

Anagha: My question is more about, something we rejected was, a club wanted to make a Japanese treat which is strawberries coated in candy coating. We thought that the strawberries needed to be refrigerated and that would probably break the food policy so we rejected it preemptively. What would be a solution in that scenario to make that food safe?

Maria: Or a clarification, this is less about catering, but more about groups wanting to have food making events where they make the food in the VCAM or Latinx cultural center. 

Anagha: Examples are sushi making, kimchi making, empanada making. Things like that where part of the experience is sharing how to prepare the food. 

Mike: I understand that. One, a relatively simple solution would be to have a ServSafe manager present at those events. It’s not that you cannot do it, you just need someone to sign off on the fact that it is being done in a safe way. I hope this doesn’t come across as students or folks can’t take care of themselves. From a liability point of view, we can prove the chain of custody of the food and the temperature locks.

Jorge: One of the concerns of that would be a sense of policing, is there an option for a waiver that they are saying whatever happens is the club’s responsibility, and the responsibility of the college is released?

Mike: I understand that. I don’t want to say yes because I need to consult with other folks. I can say I am not opposed to it. The problem with waivers is they are not as binding as people believe, but at least it is something. Perhaps we can add to that. I am brainstorming here. If the food was purchased we can store it up to the event so we know we gave it to you fresh. If we just give you ground beef you have no way of knowing that it wasn’t just sitting out for three hours before it was refrigerated. We have generators in our fridges so if there is a power outage we know the food stays fresh. 

Erin: I know the Nest co-heads are ServSafe certified or working on it, would other students in clubs be able to get that certification. 

Mike: There are a couple levels of certification, This would have to be a ServSafe manager. I don’t know what level they have at the Nest. Anyone could. You are able to get that.

Maria: Are there any ServSafe certified managers at the school?

Mike: In dining services. I get it. You don’t want a DC manager at your event. I can look into a waiver for you, I will have to get Julian involved. Maybe if we couple that with us having custody of the food, that would make a difference for me. I am not the final say but I can bring forward that recommendation.

Maria: It’s also just complicated logistically, the events happen at odd times and location wise. I don’t want this to become more complicated for everyone. We want an effective solution.

Mike: What do you think about picking up the food from the DC prior to the event?

Anagha: That feels fine. It is a question of what the purchasing timeline looks like. Figure out when you can buy it and how long it can be stored.

Mike: That is a good point. What do you usually do?

Anagha: The policy is pretty strict because Student Engagement manages the purchase. You can only purchase food up to two weeks in advance. They have to buy through an online ordering service, Amazon or walmart. If you need it immediately, then instacart. Typically students can’t go physically to a grocery store because then they need to get reimbursed and that is not something that college likes doing. We probably have to figure out a way. Two weeks in advance is not appropriate for purchasing food so we may need to figure out a new timeline. 

Mike: Theoretically, if you wanted to do the sushi night, how would you get the raw fish.

Anagha: They had a website.

Maria: Probably Oui, it is an asian-hispanic online store.

Mike: Where would it arrive?

Maria: It goes to central services. 

Mike: At central services, the packages come at odd hours. If you are ordering raw food, we can keep it safe. But if it goes to central services it could just be sitting there. That is where food safety comes in. 

Thea: How does the DC get their food delivered and stored? Maybe it could be something through that same process.

Mike: We order through many vendors and schedule our deliveries. Our food and beverage manager is always here to receive it. The DC storage is maxed out as is, we couldn’t take on a massive portion of this. Some combination where they have to let us handle the raw fish, but the strawberries maybe we can find a middle ground.

Anagha: This is probably a conversation for the next StuCo treasurer, but what the process would look like if we are getting a request for something that involves fruit or raw vegetables, how do we navigate the communication of getting approval from your office, knowing dining services can store food, and then approving the event for the club. 

Mike: If approved, a waiver would be the simplest way. If you want to explore that first. I understand that students aren’t always on the same schedule as staff, you are in class all day during our working hours. I don’t have an answer for you other than that I can look into that. We can obviously do it cheaper for ordering in bulk, but then someone would need to sort out the food.

Maria: I am curious, whenI hear the word vendor I imagine the DC is doing big purchases. While clubs would only be requesting small amounts, so wouldn’t it work to use the DC vendors?

Mike: Potentially. It would just require someone to put them in a container for you all. I am not necessarily opposed to it. If we could just plan ahead, these things are easy. It’s the last minute nature that makes it hard.

Maria: For context, all budgeting requests come in. The Student Engagement officer and operations manager will look at all the requests to make sure things aren’t getting violated on their end. It would require a similar mechanism where you could look at all the events that have raw food and then approve at the beginning of the semester.

Erin: We could just compile a list of all of the events and what they are requesting in terms of raw food items. 

Mike: Yeah, that is reasonable.

Anagha: Our last question, which is really something we have been getting from students, is there going to be a written version of this policy? When we try to explain it to students it is hard to put into words and to know what they are not following and what the policy looks like and who is enforcing it. I know that writing something is difficult because you can’t capture all the possible scenarios, do you think next semester there will be some written policy.

Mike:  I don’t think there is a written policy. When we first started this conversation, I framed it as a food safety policy, not specifically a raw food policy. This would fall under that. If I am hearing you correctly there are enough questions that maybe we should put it into writing. I could draft something and put it on the website if these questions are going to continue to come up. 

Erin: I think it is also something that would be useful for us so we can put it in our budgeting guidelines so clubs know what they have to follow. We expect clubs to read the guidelines before the request making. If we have clear guidelines it will help the next treasurers. It will also reduce the questions and confusion.

Anagha: It is also hard for us to give a reason to why we are rejecting it. All the students reading everything of why we are rejecting them are reading it really closely to try and understand the exact reason for why we are rejecting something. When we say this doesn’t meet the college’s food safety standards, they will find that unacceptable, as they don’t know where the standards are coming from and why we can decide if it is food safe or not. It would be nice to have something from administration to point out as the official policy. And we could always direct people to you that have further questions. 

Mike; I feel like I am open to communicating with folks. You can always send people my way. Do you feel like you understand the genesis of these decisions?

Anagha: I think it makes sense. It’s hard when you’re at a school when there are a large number of students that cook their own food on a daily basis and want to use college funding to support the events they are hosting. Maybe the food items are not all that different from the items they make at their apartment anyways. It is additionally challenging as all the events we have to say no to are of culturally relevant foods. It makes it a hard conversation to have as it seems like we are rejecting certain types of events. If say an affinity group is only hosting three events and two of them are food related, then we end up having to reject most of their event.s 

Jorge: It is a little confusing because we as students are seeing these being implemented and we are not being told in advance. Post Covid, we didn’t follow a lot of these policies. Our co-treasurers are getting a lot of the heat, and the policies are not transparent enough for the student body. Something that makes your life harder is Haverford has a strong sense of shared governance and wanting to be involved. When those policies are implemented and not written or accessible, then the students do get mad about it and feel like there was no feedback process. The co-treasurers then get a lot of the heat. 

Mike: I think you hit the nail on the head in terms of practice aligning with policy. Safety is one of the things where you cannot unring the bell. It is hard to give a grace period if you see an unsafe practice. I want to be clear that there is no sense that students are incapable of preparing these foods safely. From a liability point of view, it’s the same as if a good cook tried to go into a restaurant and make food to serve to its patrons. There is no intention to have undue burden on the affinity groups. Hopefully you have seen that we have been very supportive of using external caterers for those events. That is the balance. 

Maria: I also see the similarity between what happened last semester with the catering policy and this semester with the raw food policy. It causes a panic in the student body. Haverford is a very small college and people expect things to be intimate and for information to be communicated rapidly and thoroughly.  I know it’s hard in the offices to connect with students a lot. Because these policies affect specific students, it would be helpful to see that open communication. It is hard for students to see that if it is not an open channel.

Jorge: Having a memo saying that the policy is being implemented this year would be good. People will be mad regardless but at least having clear communication coming from auxiliary services. An hc-all email just announcing the policy would be a good way to get this out there. 

Mike: I sort of believed that when we had the meeting of the clubs that was everyone it would effect, is that not the case.

Jorge: It should be.

Maria: Was the food safety policy communicated at the meeting of the clubs?

Anagha: We only found out about the food safety policy after the meeting of the clubs.

Mike: It wasn’t hashed out like this in a more formal explanation. That is something to address. Those are the only people using StuCo funds.

Maria: For context, it is really difficult to get people to pay attention at the meeting of the clubs.

Erin: We have been meeting a lot with Hannah and Taylor from the Nest. We know they were not able to purchase raw foods for a while until they got their servsafe certifications. 

Mike: I have no updates on that. I don’t oversee the Nest. Those conversations I have nothing to add to that. 

Erin: I didn’t know if this policy was affecting them.

Angha: Who can we talk to about that?

Mike: I can get back to you on that. 

Anagha: We talked to Nikki Young and Dean McKnight, people who don’t have a role in food safety. I don’t know who else.

Mike: I can definitely look into that. 

Anagha: Thank you, we were just wondering. 

Erin: We have been meeting with the new co-treasurer’s so we can talk to them about setting up a meeting with you to talk about a game plan going forward. The meeting of the clubs happens within the first couple weeks.

Mike: I am available over the summer.

Erin: We can start this conversation with them now and update them on what we talked about today. 

Mike: How do you all feel?

Maria: This will be helpful to send out to folks. If they have questions they can come to you.

Mike: I hope the takeaway is I do my best to be an open and transparent personI know I cannot say yes to everyone but I try to put the college’s best foot forward and provide the best experience for students while also keeping an eye on liability and safety. 

Maria: Thank you.

Jorge: We appreciate that. People read the minutes so this will help a lot. Thank you so much.

Mike: Do you have any followup questions and were you able to get answers to all the questions you wanted to ask?

Anagha: I think it is nice to have things that we all had a sense of being in a format that can be shared with the community.

Maria: On the side, the VCAM kitchen has a fund where you can cook through the VCAM. Some groups have been using that fund. Now those events are also getting denied based on that policy.

Mike: I was not aware of this fund.

Maria: It was rejected because someone put the event on EMS and it causes me to wonder if that conversation has been had between the VCAM and auxiliary services.

Mike: No. Those community kitchens are great. If they use their own money and food then dining services are not involved at all.

Maria: Thank you. 

Mike: Just to be clear, if people want to have their own events and use their own money, that has nothing to do with us at all. It is only when the college funds are used that it becomes dining services from a legal point of view. 

Maria: So it is more about funding and less about locations.

Mike: Absolutely. If people use their own money they can do what they want.

Maria: Thank you

Erin: Thank you so much

Mike: I appreciate you guys scheduling this meeting. 

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