The Independent Student Voice of NMSU Since 1907

NMSU Round Up

The Independent Student Voice of NMSU Since 1907

NMSU Round Up

The Independent Student Voice of NMSU Since 1907

NMSU Round Up

A year of Sodexo: students and staff disagree over success of expansion 

Leah De La Torre
Sodexo, a privately owned international corporation, partners with NMSU’s housing and dining services.

Last spring, New Mexico State University’s partnership with the company Sodexo expanded into the university’s housing department, leading to varying responses from students and staff.  

Sodexo is a privately owned international corporation which serves over 1,000 schools across the United States. While Sodexo has been present at NMSU throughout the last decade in partnership with other departments, it has only been one year since they partnered with Housing and Residential Life. In an April survey conducted by The Round Up, 94% of respondents said they had issues with NMSU housing or food services over the recent academic year.  

“I want to say, probably beforehand, they were just a little better at like, getting things fixed,” said NMSU student Sarah Bishop. “Because we would put things [work orders] in like, the day of, and they would come the day of. And now it takes a while.”  

Bishop lives on campus in Chamisa Village, where she has had several issues throughout the year, from bugs coming into her apartment to the heater not working in the winter. On both occasions, she had to personally call Sodexo after receiving unsatisfactory results from submitting work orders. Yet, in both situations, Bishop was told nothing more could be done.  

“If students are paying thousands of dollars a year to live at NMSU, you would like to think that they would have everything ready to go, that there wouldn’t be as many repairs necessary,” said outgoing ASNMSU vice president, Eduardo Gallegos. “I don’t know if that’s a university thing or a Sodexo thing or truly what needs to be done.” 

Another major issue students have had with their housing experience is laundry. From broken machines to cost of use, there are signs posted all over the various campus laundry facilities expressing disappointment. However, Sodexo wants to be clear that they are not responsible for laundry services; CSC Serviceworks is the laundry vendor. Still, the Residence Housing Association (RHA) is urging students to share their concerns directly with the company. 

Yet overall, according to David McNabb, NMSU Director of Student Living, student satisfaction with NMSU Housing has gone up this year. The results of Housing’s annual feedback survey, which is emailed to every student living on campus before the end of the academic year, indicated that the experience of on-campus residents has improved from previous years in terms of overall student satisfaction and overall program effectiveness.  

“Another measure of success for us so far has been that campus is at full occupancy,” McNabb said. “We are full across every single residence hall. And so, that’s a huge measure of success.”  

In addition to Sodexo’s involvement in NMSU housing, the corporation also partners with NMSU dining facilities. This includes all food services in Corbett Center, Frenger Food Court, and O’Donnell Hall. Sodexo also caters for events held on campus.   

There have been several issues with this catering partnership in the past, from lasagnas with frozen centers to students feeling that the food was overpriced. Perhaps the most concerning report, though, is that of bugs being found in food. In addition to the reported instance of ASNMSU finding bugs in their catered meals last year, there was a recent incident where a caterpillar was found in a salad mix.  

Sodexo employees say there is only so much they can do to prevent this. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allows up to 3% contaminant variants in certain foods — including the food served at NMSU Dining, which comes from a third-party USDA-certified facility.  

“We try to catch it as best as we can, you know, on our end, but it does happen from time to time and I’m not making excuses on it,” said Ryan Vanderwall, general manager for hospitality at NMSU. “It’s just, it’s almost impossible in this entire industry, no matter where you go in the world, to eliminate that to 0%. But you know, I strongly address anybody, you know, that has something like that to contact us so we can investigate it.”  

Following the concerns raised by Sophie Pettes last year, Sodexo has been working to improve their relationship with ASNMSU. According to Gallegos, communication with the company has increased to ensure student voices are being heard more than they have been in the past.  

One of the biggest issues that Gallegos hopes will be addressed is pricing. Most organizations and events on campus are catered by Sodexo, and although groups are able to file paperwork to bring in other options, it is “suggested” that the food be from Sodexo. Gallegos noted that even though there are several outside providers who are more affordable than Sodexo, it has been hard on ASNMU’s yearly budget to continue meeting Sodexo’s prices. 

“The way that we described it was like, us not having a choice kind of feels like not fair, I guess, for lack of a better word,” Gallegos said. “If they were to offer their services and the potential of going somewhere else, I feel like that gives people the opportunity to choose — the freedom to choose. Like, ‘Okay, well, I might want to go to Hacienda, but Sodexo is more affordable’ or whatever is the case… So that would be nicer.” 

Yet, prices and potentially bugged meals are not the only issues students have with Sodexo food. NMSU student Ariana Ibarra said that she and her friends try to use Dining Dollars as much as they can to avoid eating at Taos Restaurant ta– where Ibarra’s roommate, Felicity Pereda, contracted food poisoning several times. Additionally, the girls complained that the food they were served was often cold and/or stale.  

“Yeah, I’m definitely not getting a meal plan next semester,” Ibarra said. “If I’m going to be eating garbage food and paying a lot of money for it and eating the same thing every day, at least I want it to be food that I like.”  

As a freshman at NMSU, Ibarra was required to pay for a meal plan for her first year. She was also mandated to live on campus in first-year housing, wherein she echoed several of Bishop’s complaints — from insect infestations that received no response to frustration with work orders and the employees that showed up to fix them.  

While Sodexo work order response times may be one of the most frequent issues for students living on campus, that may soon change. After hearing of these complaints, Sodexo housing employees discussed adding an option for students to select a preferred time slot for Sodexo workers to respond to work orders. That way, instances of workers arriving while students were asleep, showering, or not present would be greatly minimized.  

“We do hear things from time to time that, you know, the experience hasn’t been what we are trying to provide, and we try to handle those right away and provide the best service we can in those situations,” McNabb said. “So, I would suggest and recommend students, if they’re having those issues, to reach out to us directly and we’ll be able to take care of them.”  

Though she may not be living on campus in upcoming years or purchasing another meal plan, Ibarra still has a request for housing to address the various concerns she and her fellow students have voiced.   

“I would just say, just get their freakin’ act together because it feels like nothing’s consistent,” Ibarra said. “I shouldn’t have to lower my expectations every single time I have an interaction with what they’re responsible for.” 

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About the Contributors
Adeline Triplett
Adeline Triplett, Staff Writer
Adeline Triplett is starting her second year with The Round Up. She is a senior at NMSU, majoring in Journalism & Media Studies with a focus in print/editorial and a minor in International Studies. Adeline was raised in Farmington, New Mexico. She has always had a love of writing and reading due to growing up with parents who are teachers. Adeline began writing creatively in elementary school and has continued ever since. She discovered her passion for journalism in high school and hopes to make a positive impact with her stories. Outside of school and writing, Adeline enjoys spending time with friends and family, binging movies and shows, and traveling as much as possible. Moving forward, she hopes that working at The Round Up will help her grow as a writer and in her future career.
Leah De La Torre
Leah De La Torre, Multimedia Specialist
Leah De La Torre is entering her second year at The Round Up as a multimedia specialist. She will be majoring in Journalism and Media Studies. She grew up in El Paso, Texas. De La Torre has been making videos with her family and friends since she was in elementary school, and her love for the camera continued through high school as she became a member of the video and broadcast team. There, not only did she learn more about photography and video making but gained an interest in journalism. Her other interests include playing the cello, sewing, and listening to her favorite music artists like Her’s and The Strokes. Working for The Round Up, she hopes to continue doing what she loves, being behind the camera and contributing to making and telling stories about her community.

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