The plans for the Haggar University Center renovations have been met with intense criticism from many sources. In response, the administration has slowed down the process in order to allow more voices to join the controversial conversation.
“We have slowed down the Haggar project so that more people would have time to offer input,” Executive Vice President for Enrollment and Student Affairs Dr. John Plotts said.
“The timeline has changed, which I believe is good,” said Student Government (SG) President Angelo Novello.
According to Novello, the administration missed their deadline to approve construction for the beginning of the summer. The earliest the construction can now take place is midway through the summer and into the fall.
“I think there should definitely be time for student input … I just believe [construction for renovations] shouldn’t get in the way of daily life,” Cap Bar employee Muriel Bailey said.
“They’re really pumping the breaks on it and they’re really re-evaluating,” SG president-elect Clare Slattery said.
In light of the vocal opposition Plotts has activated the Student Life Committee composed of faculty, alumni representatives and the current and incoming SG presidents to consider the issue.
One of the main sources of the opposition to the changes was from alumna Bridget Safranek, who posted numerous complaints on Facebook about the proposal as well as the methods employed by Aramark and the administration in implementing changes and gathering information.
Complaints focused on how little input there was from faculty and the National Alumni Board regarding the changes, the effects of an elongated contract with Aramark and how the aesthetic of the Cap bar may be affected in the renovations.
“We’re not opposed to change, it’s just that we’d like to see change done where there is a need for it and have it done thoughtfully,” Safranek said.
Novello and Slattery addressed common misconceptions the UD community has about the potential renovations and contract with Aramark.
“In 2012 we made a 15-year contract with Aramark,” Novello said. “The contract that they were thinking about signing with Aramark to renovate this space is 3.5 million up front for this project and that would expand the contract for five years… As far as the deal and the money goes, it’s a pretty good deal.”
“Whatever that original design [for the renovations] is … it’s no longer accurate,” Slattery said.
“In any renovations that are done, [Plotts] really wants to make the Cap Bar even more authentically Italian,” Novello said.
Novello went on to explain that if a franchise option such as Chick-fil-a or Subway were brought in instead of the proposed “open kitchen,” it would still be managed by Aramark.
Additionally, he clarified that there is a clause in any contract UD signs with Aramark that says Aramark cannot raise student fees more than four or five percent annually.
However, Novello and Slattery went on to list concerns that they have about the potential renovations.
“The Cap Bar clearly embodies UD culture,” Slattery said. “I think the administration does know that, but I don’t think they fully realize what it is about the Cap Bar that embodies our culture… Aramark’s influence should be as small as possible within the Cap Bar itself.”
Students with any constructive concerns, opinions or ideas on either side of this issue are invited to speak with their student representatives and the UD administration.
Correction: The article has been edited to reflect that Bridget Safranek did not speak to Dr. John Plotts, but relayed information from other alumni who did.
Does this also have anything to do with the change in leadership as well? Seems it was timed interestingly.