Labor shortage on campus sparks frustration from staff and students


As businesses nationwide struggle to find and retain employees, Mason’s on-campus dining services and restaurants are no exception to this labor shortage. Mason Dining Services continues to advertise that they are hiring for Ike’s and Southside as well as various restaurants on the Fairfax campus.

Their social media boasts links for applications for both full-time and part-time positions. The labor shortage has sparked frustration not only from Mason dining staff but from students as well, particularly residential students with meal plans.

“The false advertising of Southside being open 24/7 and actually closing at 11 [p.m.] is really frustrating as so many of us [college students] have crazy schedules that make it hard to fit in trips to the dining hall,” said sophomore residential student Juliana Roggeband.

According to the Mason dining website, Southside is open 24 hours except for 5-7 a.m. each morning.

There is a sign posted on the Southside dining doors indicating that the hall closes at 11 p.m. each evening, leaving residential students to feel frustrated that they pay for a meal plan that has been advertised as 24 hours to them but is not.

Mason Dining Services additionally advertises that they have reopened Gold Rush, a grab-and-go dining service below Southside dining hall. Gold Rush is designed to allow students an alternative to sit-down dining, where instead of spending time sitting and eating, they can instead use their meal plan to grab an entrée, sides, a drink and often a dessert option.

 According to students that used Gold Rush last year, there are far less options to choose from this year, as the grab-and-go system offers sandwiches and salads as the only entrée options, varying from last semester’s options of hot meals that were being served upstairs in Southside.

 “I would love if Gold Rush grab-and-go was more like it was last semester ­­— they had to-go portions of what was being served upstairs, including dairy-free, gluten-free and vegetarian options,” said Roggeband. “I can’t eat the minimal choices served at grab-and-go as they are because of my dairy and gluten intolerance.”

 Students are not the only ones affected by the labor shortage on campus. Employees currently working for Mason Dining Services amid the shortage have their own concerns.

 Due to the labor shortage, Mason Dining managers said that their employees have stepped up to take overtime hours to keep dining services on campus running as smoothly as possible.

“Overtime is completely voluntary,” said a Mason Dining Services manager, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of backlash. “But the opportunity is there, and some employees are taking advantage of that.”

According to the dining services manager, about 60% of dining service employees at Southside, Ike’s and the various restaurants on campus are Mason students.

“The Mason community is helping,” said the Mason Dining Services manager. “We have a lot more students than we’ve ever had before [working in dining service].”

For some employees, working for Mason Dining Services is not their only job. Trevor Scambos works approximately 20 hours a week at the dining hall and then additionally works for both the men’s basketball and soccer teams. 

“I work for Southside, also the men’s basketball team and also the men’s soccer team,” said Scambos. “I like it here a lot [Southside].”