By Hayden Sadler
Boost Mobile is a phone application that allows students to order food on the SUNY Plattsburgh campus online, a convenient alternative to ordering food in person, but is there a cost to convenience?
Chris Mihalyi is resident director of Chartwells, the company that runs campus dining operations.
“I tell everyone it’s a fancy title for me in oversight of all dining services on campus,” Mihalyi said.
He works closely with Kelly Santor, Chartwells’ operations controller. The pair have worked together to ensure a smooth introduction of Boost services across campus. With over 12,000 orders from the start of the semester to mid-November, Boost is no doubt growing in popularity. Mihalyi described the increase in popularity as a “crescendo.”
“The students are embracing it much more this year,” Santor said.
Campus dining locations are sometimes swamped with hundreds of Boost orders, so is it sustainable for on campus workers to fulfill an entirely different set of orders while ensuring the in-person line flows smoothly?
Across campus, the popularity of Boost has become much more apparent this last semester. In some locations, such as Tim Horton’s and Kent Cafe, students have experienced longer lines, which they believe to be caused by Boost orders increasing the workload of employees across campus.
As workers share friendly smiles with students grabbing food, a pile of boost orders sits ready to be picked up for those who want to skip the backed-up queue, one student described.
Senior Brian Yu noted the longer lines in addition to the convenience of Boost.
“I think it’s great because I can order online instead of waiting in line,” Yu said.
Regarding longer lines as a result of Boost, Yu said: “They don’t seem to have separate workers for boost orders. That’s what they need.”
If there aren’t enough people to handle two sources of incoming orders, then which ones take priority, and will the in-person queues get longer?
Oftentimes a boost order requires little interaction between students and employees. At Kent Cafe, the friendly service provided by the workers is a large draw for many students who order from the location. Interaction is an everyday part of ordering in person; it can establish positive relations between regular customers and workers. There is no guarantee that in a Boost-oriented environment there would be as social an experience.
Chartwells and Kent Cafe have declined an interview regarding Boost and student feelings toward the topic.
Boost is still a relatively new addition to the SUNY Plattsburgh campus, and Chartwells is still working to integrate the service into campus. On the topic of Boost’s slow introduction to the campus over the last year, Mihalyi mentioned the idea of “Boost-exclusive” items being added to menus across campus to attract students to the Boost system. As Boost grows, it is yet unclear how students prefer to order their food.
Santor invites students who have problems with Boost let Chartwells know if there are any issues. Unfortunately, without opinions from service workers rather than management, the true extent of how Boost has affected campus dining is conveniently veiled.
“As much as our worlds are transitioning to more digital platforms, we do enjoy that face to face interaction,” Santor said.
Ultimately, whether campus dining becomes Boost-oriented is up to how Plattsburgh students, dining employees and Chartwells respond to the platform’s growth.
This is why schools lose favor with their students. They focus on community efficiency and what seems to be more profitable in theory, rather than the personal interests of the people in the community. Which is why people like me who don’t like using my phone would rather suffer going to Clinton than using my phone to order online on an application that takes slower than talking.
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