Butler University’s long-standing relationship with Aramark limits what students eat and when they can eat.
Aramark began providing food service at Butler in 1998, and outside vendors have had little opportunity to make inroads on campus since then.
When Jimmy John’s passed out free sandwiches on campus earlier this semester and the local food trucks arrived on campus last fall, they violated the university’s ban on solicitation and an Aramark stipulation.
John Ban, owner of The NY Slice food truck, was turned away last year despite long lines of students and faculty. He said he has not had any problems at other college campuses in Indianapolis.
“It’s just business,” Ban said. “Aramark is a massive company. They’ve solidified their place.”
Sally Click, dean of student services, said outside vendors must be invited to campus because of a solicitation ban that exists for campus safety reasons, but they are welcome to operate in the public space that surrounds campus.
“(Students) can go to Broad Ripple, and you can go downtown, and you can get that if you want it somewhere else, but I think we have an academic environment we’re trying to protect,” Click said.
Some students cannot travel or afford to go buy food somewhere else, and freshmen and sophomores living in residence halls must purchase a campus meal plan.
Freshman Mike Mueller said he likes the convenience of having a meal plan but said it can get boring having to eat the same food over and over again.
Students who eat the food Aramark provides may not be satisfied.
“We don’t hear a whole lot of the positives,” said Nathan Haugh, special projects manager for Aramark at Butler, “but that’s typical in any restaurant. You hear the negative things because people want them to change, but the positive things
—people typically don’t think about expressing those.”
Despite their lack of satisfaction, many students are required to eat whatever Aramark chooses to provide.
Campus meals are convenient for busy students, and the students may not be mature enough to feed themselves, Click said.
“We don’t want to keep you on (a meal plan) any longer when you’re able to and are certainly ready to have more independent living,” Click said. “It used to be that you would come to campus and we would be your parents, your surrogate
parents. We don’t want to be overly parental, but we want to support you.”
Students do have some new options. The new addition, which expanded seating and food options, to the Atherton Union Marketplace opened Friday, when the Board of Trustees got a first look.
“The oohs and ahs looked promising,” said Jeremy Cline, district manager at Aramark, who observed the opening. “This is a game changer.”
Along with the Mongolian grill and 120-seat section now available, Click said students now also have access to sushi every day in the Campus Club.