Mason’s Dining Services issues a survey each year for staff, student and faculty feedback about the various dining options on campus.
According to Mark Kraner, executive director for Retail Operations at Mason, this is the eighth year that campus dining has issued this survey, and they expect anywhere from 2,000-3,000 responses.
“The information we get from the surveys will drive decisions on services we provide in the future. It also drives the training for the staff,” Kraner said.
According to Kraner, the survey aims to provide an opportunity for the Mason community to share their opinions and concerns about dining services, and the comments and data that Mason Dining receives from the survey help them develop and improve plans for the next year.
Participants are asked to rank their satisfaction and value of the food, menu, service, cleanliness, dining environment, and environmental sustainability of various dining options on campus, including Southside, the Johnson Center Food Court, and Prince William campus’ Randalls, which will undergo renovations this summer. There is also a section for written comments.
“It is a good way to share our opinions,” said Molly Thomson, a freshman who took the survey. “I may have complained a little, but I wanted to make good suggestions.”
Thomson said that many of her classmates expressed their desire for more breakfast options.
Samantha Alexander, also a freshman, chose not to take the survey. She says her cynicism towards Mason Dining stems from multiple negative experiences with the cleanliness and food quality at Southside, as well as her concern over their occasional use of disposable flatware.
In the past few years, however, dining services has taken steps towards greater environmental stewardship, an important criterion of the survey.
“When you look at the dining halls, we have designed the buildings to meet or exceed the LEED Silver standards,” Kraner said. “We continually review equipment to determine if it is better to upgrade it due to efficiencies in power consumption.”
There are also plans to expand the available dining options in the next few years, and major changes, such as the opening of Panera in January 2015, were influenced significantly by responses from past surveys.
The future of Mason Dining is under review as a part of the University Master Plan, says Kraner, and new dining options will be added to various buildings under expansion, such as a coffee shop in Fenwick Library.
Innovation Hall will be renovated this summer, and whether or not to include a coffee cart could be determined by the responses from the survey.
A third party runs the survey to maintain the confidentiality of participants, as well as to provide regional and national data, which will be available in the spring, to compare to Mason’s responses.