Stephanie Schulz, Staff Photographer
The ongoing dispute between Chartwells and Associated Student Government Sen. Adam French has come to an end following an amendment unanimously approved by the Board of Regents earlier this month.
The debate was fueled mostly by French insisting Chartwells abide by what he considered to be their contractual obligation to provide free refills at Jones Dining Hall. The sentence from the 1998 Dining and Food Service Agreement reads, “drinks should be refilled as part of a meal rate.” Free refills were only being offered at two locations, Harris and Commons Dining Hall. These locations still offer unlimited beverages.
The Board of Regents voted to strike the sentence from the contract, concluding a yearlong tug-of-war betweenand Chartwells.
The “Free Refills Act of 2010,” authored by French last November, was sponsored by 21 ASG senators including current Student Body President AJ DeGarmo. It was the first formal move made by either side in the dispute.
In response to the legislation, the Division of Finance and Support Services distributed a memorandum citing current services being offered outside of the contract. The letter stated the university’s intention to have the sentence referring to free refills deleted while adding language to reflect current practices that were being offered by Chartwells.
In response to the memorandum in an April 27 University Star article, French said, “Deleting parts of the contract based upon the lack of adherence to said contract is somewhat fishy to me.”
Before the amendment was presented to the Board of Regents, French urged Director of Auxiliary Services John Root and Chartwells Resident District Manager Leslie Bulkley to “meet in the middle” on the issue.
At the Board of Regents meeting, held Aug. 18 and 19, the amendment was approved and it officially deleted the sentence that started the controversy. The amendment modified the contract to include services that were being offered outside of the agreement, such as rollover mealtrades, a full-time marketing director and 24-hour service in Jones Dining Hall during finals week.
“I am no longer going to pursue this issue,” French said. “I’ve done all I can.”
Over the summer, French said he met with Bulkley and Root three times with the purpose of finding a way to provide refills for students while offsetting the financial losses for Chartwells.
In these meetings, the three discussed the possibilities of a compromise, such as discounted refill prices or the option for students to purchase a permanent refill mug at the beginning of the semester.
French said at the conclusion of the final meeting that Bulkley said she would “crunch the numbers” and get back to him with the research on a possible compromise.
“Since the last meeting I have sent multiple e-mails asking for updates on the research promised by Chartwells, but have not received an answer,” French said.
Root said the compromise with the best chance of being approved is the reusable mug, but the decision will be up to the Food Service Committee. He called the mug the most plausible because it is a sustainable alternative to the current paper cup method and is enforceable because a cashier will not have to remember if the customer has already paid for a drink.
Louis Madrid, graphic design senior, said he would prefer discounted refill prices rather than a permanent mug because a lot of students will forget or not want to carry it around. He said the baseball stadium offers discounted refills with a certain mug purchased by fans, but that “most people just forget to bring it.”