▲ A meal of Goreaul-saem(Yonsei University)
Photography by Jang Min-ju
▲ A meal of Woojung Hall(Sogang University)
ⓒ Naver Blog
Ourhome who provides a food service in Woojung Hall signed a one-year contract extension with Sogang University. However, students’ voices to renewal of contract take on a negative tone. An interview with The Sogang Herald, Lee Kyung-hoon (16, Dept. of Chemistry and Biotechnology) expressed students’ negative responses toward the contract extension by saying, “I wonder whether students’ opinions were reflected in the discussion. Students have complained about school cafeteria for a long time. Despite this manner, the contract extension was agreed to.” If it is so, how did the contract with Ourhome proceed without the enough notification of decision maker and criteria to students? It is important to pay attention to procedure of Ourhome’s contract extension, and qualities of meals in Woojung Hall as well as students’ opinions.
According to Seo Bun-do(13, Dept. of Economics), who is Student Representative of Welfare Committee, Ourhome’s contract was planned to expire on Aug. 31, 2018. An enterprise commonly requires its renewal before the half year of the termination of contract. Although Sogang University had asked Ourhome for the intention of renewal, Ourhome continually evaded reply. Ourhome required extra time to examine the exact number of students’ meals. With rising minimum wages and food costs in early June, it demanded roughly three conditions to Sogang. First requirement was the exemption of facilities management costs. Second, it wants to change operating hours of Woojung Hall school cafeteria. Originally, the closing hour of the cafeteria is 7:00 PM, but it wants to change it to 6:30 PM. Moreover, Woojung Hall cafeteria will not be operated on Saturdays from now on. Last one was receiving the authority to decide pricing. It notified breach of contract relations if above three requirements wouldn’t be accepted. At the same time, it asked for the remaining costs. However, Sogang University rejected it.
Ourhome’s requirement may trigger some risks. Its requirement
s could make the cost of meals rise. That would get connected to the fall of student welfare. Sogang University could have contracted with other businesses, but didn’t. If Sogang sues Ourhome for breach of contract about remaining cost, students would be directly damaged by it. For that reason, the university cannot help but extend its contract with Ourhome. In order to reach an agreement, Sogang required at least three demand plans about the price of meals, and Ourhome newly suggested three proposals according to Sogang’s requriements. The Ourhome made three planned proposals. First and Second proposal contained an increase in price. First, the corner 1 price rises and the new corner named ‘Chef’s premium corner’ would be introduced. Furthermore, additional ramen toppings like cheese or rice cake and rice incur extra cost. Second, the cost of corner 3 increases and that for rice is added as well. Third, three corners’ prices are same, but ‘Chef’s premium corner’ costs higher than others-about 4,500 won- and only additional cost for rice is same as second proposal. Welfare Committee in Sogang accepted third plan and added some requirements. A discussion among Ourhome, a student representative and a school representative’s presence will be held after a month when finished monitoring. This discussion is for prevention from degradation of quality. Moreover, rice should be offered unlimitedly if students pay the additional cost. It also asked university to pay the additional rice cost instead of students, but Sogang refused.
Woojung Hall has offered five menus at lunchtime. One menu is only aimed at the faculty, and the others are for students. The students’ menu consists of three general corners and snack corner. Corner 1 is an one-dish meal and costs 2,700 won. Corner 2 is a fried dish and costs 3,900 won. Corner 3, a meal with a bowl of rice and side dishes consisting of Korean food, costs 3,700 won. The last snack corner’s menu is ramen which is divided into three types: rice cake, cheese or both. Each costs 2,000 and 2,500 won. Also, it offers rice and side dish like sliced radish kimchi. In the dinner time, only Corner 3 is open.
The students’ opinions about Woojung Hall can be found in a survey which was conducted by the student council of Sogang in 2016. In the part about the number of uses, ‘Never’ recorded the highest rate, 35.6%. ‘Once a week(27.2%)’ and ‘twice or three times a week(28.8%)’ ensued. The most frequent reason for selecting ‘Never’ was ‘It doesn’t taste good’, recording 80.5%. Furthermore, about 54% of students replied negatively about ‘Food Quality of school cafeteria’. In ‘variety of selection’ part, 80% of students give negative responses. The Sogang Herald had a talk with student Lee about the meal of Woojung Hall school cafeteria. He said “I usually have a meal two or three times a week in Woojung Hall. Because it is cheap and gives freedom to pick a menu among four things. Most of all, the close distance is a great advantage. Though I choose it as the last resort when I’m tired to go out to eat, I use it often. I don’t have many complaints about price, but at the same time, I don’t have a positive cognition about quality. The main menus are certainly small in quantity and I’d like to talk that fried foods are not so good. I want a high quality of food, even if it rises its price so.” The comparison with the meal of Yonsei University gives more diverse information.
Yonsei University is well-known for its delicious meals. Students can find whopping 862 messages at internet bulletin board in Naver, when they search by ‘school meal of Yonsei University’. The Sogang Herald went to the Goreaul-saem which is the famous school cafeteria of Yonsei University. The Goreaul-saem offers a diverse menu from Western food like pizza, gratin, spaghetti, risotto, salad, pasta, steak to Korean food and Japanese food. The Goreaul-saem always has 43 menus at least. Comparing meager four menus at Woojung Hall’s selection to Goreaul-saem, the latter evidently provides more choice. Besides, there is a striking difference in price. The highest price of a meal at the former is 3,900 won, but that in the latter is 6,200 won. An average price of two cafeterias is about 3,000 won and 5,500 won respectively. However, the meal of Goreaul-saem has that much quality. Taking Lee’s mention that Soganger wants the higher quality more than the lower price, the university should focus on the better quality of foods even if it will increase the price of meal in school cafeteria.
The Lee added “Although high quality lays financial burden upon the students, they want high quality food. To realize at, I think university’s investment is crucial. We can hear good reputations of other universities that invest much in better meals like Sejong University. Sogang should invest more actively to the school cafeteria, too.” Students are dissatisfied with the contraction extension between Woojung Hall and Ourhome. However, it’s not the matter of whose responsibility it is. This problem is broadly associated with all related parties including Ourhome, Sogang, and even Soganger. Therefore, all parties should take an effort to solve this problem. The Ourhome should give careful attention to the trends of student opinion and change itself. The student council of Sogang will make a thorough investigation into the school meals of various universities, and furthermore, install a sticker board to figure out students’ satisfaction by putting a sticker. Other practical methods which can draw student’s attention should be created to reflect their opinion about the menu more easily than before. With these kinds of things, the active support of Sogang University is also essential. The meals which were made by students’ attention and university’s exertion together will bless Soganger’s mealtime.
By Jang Min-ju (Campus Reporter)