Administrators and GUSA officials say they are exploring alternatives to the current food services in O’Donovan Dining Hall as negotiations continue over the future of the university’s relationship with Marriott International.

Georgetown’s current contract with Marriott will expire in ay.

Eamonn Carr (COL ’06), secretary of housing and facilities for the student association, said that the university is considering reappraising its contract with Marriott, the only vendor to occupy the dining hall. The current contract with arriott took effect in January 2001.

Carr said that there have been “extensive discussions and analyses as far as the Marriott in Leo’s is concerned.”

Georgetown is currently the only university receiving arriott’s dining services.

A renewal of Marriott’s contract is not the only option currently under consideration, however.

Carr plans to meet with representatives from New York University’s dining services in January to consider alternative vendors. Carr said that he could not comment on the vendors with whom he has been speaking.

“We are exploring all options possible, including other companies,” he said.

Carr said that no tuition dollars would pay for his flights to research alternate companies, because his meetings with vendors will coincide with personal trips. The reappraisal is likely to be finalized in the middle of the second semester, he added.

Jeremy White (COL ’07), chair of the GUSA Assembly’s Executive Committee, said that students have been shortchanged in the past because the university has committed itself to retaining arriott when each of their dining contracts have expired. He said that he hopes that the search is open to a wide variety of food service providers.

“As students, it’s unacceptable that we’re getting less than we’re paying for,” he said. “Students deserve a lot better.”

Carr, however, said that there is no indication that the university’s dining contract with Marriott has been or will be non-competitive.

“Essentially, we’re looking at all the options that we can,” he said.

In an article published on September 10, 2004, Margie Bryant, the associate vice president for auxiliary services who manages the university’s contract with Marriott, said that “Georgetown works very hard to keep all contracts very competitive.”

An important consideration in the process will be which companies will generate the most revenue and produce the fewest increases in tuition and meal plan fees.

Carr also said that a new contract will likely result in minimal increases to the costs of meal plans, but the increase will likely be less this year as a result of the closing of Darnall Dining Hall.

“The Darnall facility was no longer being used by a large number of students and was not economically efficient to continue as a full service dining operation,” said Erik Smulson, assistant vice president for communications. “That said, Georgetown’s meal plan is the least expensive of any university in the area.”

The closing of the dining facilities in Darnall will produce a total of $450,000 in revenue for the university, Carr said.

Carr added that meal plan prices should remain relatively steady over the next several years. He said that any increases that occur would likely be made in order to accommodate for inflation.

“We’ve been looking at multiple vendors that cannot handle service in Leo’s,” he said.

Carr said that the university would like to agree on a five-year contract with a dining service vendor, although contracts with universities frequently last 10 years. Any new contact would take effect in June 2006.

GUSA President Pravin Rajan (SFS ’07) said that this is the first time that a student organization has taken such an active role in the process of appraising dining services.

“There is no precedent for student involvement on this level in a university business decision,” he said. “It’s a remarkable stride.”

Students expressed mixed reactions to the possibility of a different food service provider being hired for next year.

“I think that the variety of foods at Leo’s is good, but for the most part, I don’t like the entrees,” Ryan Goldstein (COL ’09) said.

“No college food is great, but from what I’ve seen ours is better than some others,” Jonathan Rapoport (COL ’09) said. “I don’t know how to react to replacing the food-service provider because I have no way of knowing if the replacement would be better.”

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