Dining hall faces student worker shortage, omelettes suffer

By Connie Lee


Have you been missing Eggs to Order on Mondays lately?

The problem lies in the fact that the dining hall does not have enough workers. There are currently 50 unfilled positions.

Traditionally, the dining hall starts with many workers at the beginning of the semester—so many that there are not enough shifts for the students to work. As the semester winds down and the schoolwork piles up, more and more students ditch their jobs.
“I think right now is about the worst we’ve had in the past. Right now, we are at the lowest peak of employment,” said Lyle Bauman, Marketplace Supervisor at Dining Services.

Students wait in line in the dining hall Thursday. It is facing a shortage of student workers. Photo by Connie Lee

At this point, there are so many unfilled positions that Eggs to Order will no longer be available on Mondays for the rest of the semester. Eggs to Order might not come back on Mondays next semester if the dining hall is unable to recruit more workers. Eggs to Order on Fridays has also been considered for cancellation. “Fridays are really bad also, but it’s been covered. We served last Friday and it will be served again,” said Jeanette Moser, Associate Director of Dining Services.

“I take it very personal to close a venue because from my standpoint that is a direct reflection on me,” Bauman said.

The cause for the dearth of workers is unknown, but changes in the pay system at the College might have had an indirect impact on the dining hall. In previous years, other jobs at the help desk or the mailroom have traditionally paid less than the dining hall. However, now they are on the same tier of pay. The relatively lower pay eliminates one of the incentives to work at the dining hall.

“Why work for [the dining hall] when [for] the same money I can work for the help desk and do my homework?” Bauman said.
“Another thing is that we need to do a better job of marketing the dining hall services positions,” Moser said. “Because we do teach life skills. We teach people how to cook and safe food practices. It teaches people that they do need to work for money.”

The dining hall staff has tried repeatedly to recruit more student workers. However, it has been met with a fair amount of resistance. At the beginning of every school year, the dining hall holds an informational meeting to recruit first years. This year, less than half signed up for shifts. “We now use a lot of high school students to supplement all these positions and we still struggle to get our positions filled,” Moser said.

Signs have been placed at every venue asking for student workers. Bauman has gone up to students during meals asking them to sign up for shifts. He has tabled for workers several times, but not many people have responded. “If every first year student was to take a shift, we’d be in business,” Bauman said.

Another problem the dining hall faces in recruitment is its inflexibility in work schedules. “One of our biggest challenges is class scheduling because Monday, Wednesdays, and Fridays are our toughest days,” Bauman said. “Many of the students have class till noon and back at one. This takes them out of the pool for employment.”

Many students avoid working the breakfast shifts and prefer the lunch or dinner shifts. However, a 1:15 p.m. class means the student is only available to work half of a lunch shift. Athletes who have practice at 4:30 p.m. are unable to work the dinner shift.

The full-time staff has also lost many workers this year. “We have been down [as many as] eight full-time staff all at once. Not just once, but days,” Moser said.

Coupled with the lack of student help, the full-time staff has been heavily burdened.

“We’ve got a few [full time staff] that have just started. One started yesterday, so we are starting to get that staff built up again,” Moser said.

This will relieve some of the strain on the staff, but not enough to reopen Eggs to Order on Mondays.