Even rescheduled off campus due to food service conflict
In November of last year, an event being put on by the Hill Business Students’ Society (BSS) was cancelled with little explanation several days before it was supposed to take place.
The event, Turtlenecks & Tanqueray, is a tradition made to pay homage to the Faculty of Business Administration’s beloved instructor, Dwight Heinrichs, celebrating his staple black turtleneck and love of a smooth gin drink.
As it turns out, Chartwells played a role in the event’s cancellation due to an alleged contractual violation around catering and the serving of alcohol.
A member of the BSS who dealt directly with Chartwells and wishes to remain anonymous to avoid any possible repurcussions, provided the Carillon with a detailed account of what transpired.
“The Business Students’ Society [puts] on events called ‘lounge parties’ about five to six times a year. These are small events which happen in the business lounge on the fifth floor of the Education Building and usually have less than 50 people in attendance.”
“The BSS operates the bar for these events. We pay to secure our own liquor permit for the event and these permits are always signed and approved by the faculty, campus security, and the SLGA (Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority).”
“In order to qualify for a liquor permit, we also need to have food served at the event. This food must come from a catering service on campus.” For this particular event, the BSS went with Chartwells as their food provider.
“When I went to the Chartwells office, one of their employees informed me that their exclusive contract with the university also covers the sale of beverages and, therefore, bartending our own event is in violation of their contract with the university. The employee from Chartwells said to me, ‘I have the contract for this, there is no reason why I would let you do it yourself,’ which is basically saying [Chartwells] would rather lose the money from catering the food portion of the events (since we had to cancel them) than allow us to do the bartending ourselves.”
This BSS member expressed that the Chartwells employee in question was rude and provocative in their meeting.
“He was very combative with me. I went in there and got him to sign the [form]. He had to go run up to an employee and talk to them and he tells me ‘wait here!’ He comes back and started berating me about who’s doing our bartending. I had no idea what he was talking about. We had never had this problem before. No one had ever mentioned it – no one from campus security, no one from the faculty, no one from either of the catering options had complained. He said that he would like to go do some research and figure it out himself. I offered to give him my information so that he could contact me to let me know what he finds and he wouldn’t take my information, which I thought was very strange. My understanding was [that] he wanted to go and figure out if we were doing something wrong, but it didn’t really seem to me that he wanted to work on a solution that was going to be beneficial for each party.
“He was asking prodding questions about what we had been doing and he also took a picture of the security form that I had to get signed too. So he was collecting information and, as far I understood, was building a case.
“Small-scale events like this, across all Canadian student societies, have kind of been the bread and butter over the last 60, 70 years. Now, all of a sudden, [this conflict] basically makes it so that you can only have large-scale events. You can’t really have small social events because you don’t have the funds coming from alcohol sales [which] these student societies counted on. Losing all the profits from the bar as well as having to pay a bartender would make each event three to four times more expensive for us and ultimately make [lounge events] unfeasible to put on in the future.
“I can’t necessarily speak for other societies, but really, the only people who have the scale to put on the large-scale events are the Business Students Society and URSU itself, so I don’t know what the other societies are going to do.”
“We’re still trying to resolve what, potentially, we’ll be able to do to get student engagement events like this happening again without being able to sell our own alcohol.
Student Affairs has confirmed for the Carillon that Chartwells has no authority over liquor. Campus Security presently sees over liquor dealings. This is detailed in a statement from Pat Patton, Director of the Security & Operations Department, on URSU’s Clubs & Societies page. It states that:
“In some situations, students who have received ‘Serve it Right’ training may be approved to serve under a special occasion permit for small events (proof of certification is required). This would be considered for small gatherings in ‘the lounge.’”
Another anonymous source within the BSS expressed that, “Chartwells is just so expensive with very little to no discounting [offered] to student groups. For societies like ours that collect a levy, this affects us on a lesser scale in comparison to others. Other societies have run into the issue where they were under the impression or made to believe that Chartwells was the only catering on campus that could be utilized.”
Add this to the list of complaints filed against Chartwells who are continually being critiqued by members of the campus community.
Over the holidays, Chartwells’ inaccessibility was highlighted when they sent out their hours for Dec. 21–Jan. 5. On any given day, there was only one on-campus food provider (either Common Ground or the Global Village) open with hours ranging from 11:30-1:00 & 4:30-6:00, 8:00-3:00, or 8:00-11:00 a.m. This left Kramer Blvd as the closest alternative for food services.
The current holder of the U of R’s Food Services contract has come under fire for the mislabelling of halal and non-halal meats, repeated incidences of cockroaches, as well as their general inability to provide healthy, affordable meal options which are essential for students who live on campus.
Bettina Welsh, Director of Student Affairs Operations, offered a statement on behalf of Student Affairs and Food Services. Welsh stated that it has been difficult to reach any kind of resolution regarding the matter since the BSS individual has decided to not lodge a formal complaint.
“On behalf of Student Affairs, we really do apologize for any behaviour that was inappropriate [on the part of] Food Services or Chartwells employees. We just have not been able to talk to [the employee in question] for them to defend themselves.
“If all things are true that I’m hearing, there might have been a miscommunication between the university food services or Chartwells employee and the individual with this form. If there was a miscommunication, the business school is aware of future processes and I’ve reminded university Food Services or Chartwells what the processes are.”
“We are Student Affairs, students come first and we don’t treat students in a way that makes them feel badly about themselves or badly about organizing an event.”
In regard to the employee that dealt with this particular BSS student, Welsh stated that “the individual that I think this person talked to no longer works for [Chartwells]. My understanding is that he left [of] his own volition.”
Welsh reiterated that the relationship between university Food Services and Chartwells is a complicated one, given the intricacies of how the contract between the two parties works. In short, the university Food Services is managed by Chartwells. This means that Chartwells oversees the staff who belong to the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). The university owns the facilities and equipment, but the staff are employees of Chartwells. Welsh said, “We work closely with [Chartwells] to get them to be a university advocate and to behave in a way that aligns with our values and really be part of the university experience in a positive way.”
Upon an interview request with Welsh, Student Affairs contacted the BSS directly, seeking further details. The BSS then spoke with the Carillon, looking to retract comments made by its members and pull the story.
Turtlenecks & Tanqueray went ahead on Jan, 10 at Chop Steakhouse.