A Tribute to President Andy Hogan

How many of you have eaten in Sherman since Passover break?  I am right now.  I’ve been eating at Sherman a lot more since the latest round of improvements, and it’s become more crowed than it used to be since word has spread about the changes.  There are more options, more food cooked to order, and everything seems fresher and more appetizing.  All of a sudden, Sherman seems like less of a joke and more of a decent place to enjoy a meal.  And while credit should go to the Brandeis administration and Dining Services for their responsiveness to the community’s complaints, we should also remember what helped get the ball rolling on the path to large-scale dining reform: the advocacy and hard work of former Union President Andy Hogan.

I’m living in the Charles River apartments next year, as I’m sure many of you are.  If someone had told me before this semester that I’d wind up in Grad, I’d have been sorely disappointed; visions of leaky buildings and broken appliances would have crossed my mind.  However, I’m now excited for next year.  Grad is receiving a thorough renovation, and I’ll be one of the first to inhabit the fresh new living space.  Once again, I, along with the rest of the student body, owe a thank you to Andy Hogan for making this happen.

I feel that Andy often received an undeserved bad rap during his time in office.  He was censured by the Union Senate over the insignificant midyear senator amendment, and though he avoided the impeachment that Diana Aronin suffered, she at least got a public validation through her decisive reelection.  Despite the fact that he did everything he could to minimize the issue and keep it from becoming a distraction, he bore the brunt of the bad press the Union received in the wake of the impeachment fiasco.  The nadir came in the February 5th Hoot, which featured an editorial cartoon cruelly depicting the Student Union as a beheaded chicken.  The symbolism was tacky and completely uncalled for, particularly as the “head” of the Union continued succeeding in his advocacy projects and improving campus life.

Adding additional BranVan service during high traffic times?  Thanks, Andy.  Working to eliminate wasted energy by shutting off after-hours lights?  Thanks, Andy.  Expanding the awesome Clubs in Service project?  Thanks, Andy.  Getting a student voice on the powerful Presidential Search Committee?  Thanks, Andy.  The Union’s focus on student surveys this year allowed it to keep a finger on the pulse of the Brandeis community, and it used that knowledge for tangible results in many small but tangible ways, improving everything from our dining to our bathrooms.

Jason Gray definitely left some massive shoes to fill as Union President, and I can’t pretend I agree with every decision Andy has made over the past year.  But his term in office was punctuated with success on a number of levels, and I hope that the student body recognizes that.  Despite the manufactured controversy, a lot of us were looking only for results, and I think that Andy Hogan delivered.  I hope Andy knows that his hard work didn’t occur in a vacuum; I, at least, was watching, and I appreciate what he was able to do.


If you eat in Usdan you’ve probably  seen this sign:

It’s funny that Aramark thinks they can appeal to students by framing their food as the hippie, liberal alternative.  The sign makes it clear that Aramark exec’s like Director of Dining Operations, Michael Newmark, don’t understand our perspective. If they did, they would have signs and matereials that would market healthy food in a respectful way.

If you look at it from Aramark’s point of view, offering cage-free eggs is a great idea because it is a low cost gimmick that will make students slightly more likely to think that they are socially conscious. After all, they have done close to nothing to improve the dining halls in the past couple years.  Of course, making significant investments in dining services at Brandeis more often than they need to in order to keep Brandeis students from complaining about them, would be a waste, because they don’t really care how happy we are, as long as they don’t lose money.

But, you say, that’s not true, they really do care about our concerns because they brought Quiznos and it’s a lot better than everything else in Usdan.

Hm, why would Aramark do such a nice thing for us?

Perhaps because their contract is ending after May 2009.

Oh, okay, so this means that we can get another dining service starting in the fall if we want right?

Not so fast. In order for us to get a new dining services contractor, Brandeis would need to put out a Request For Proposal (RFP) to companies that would be interested in making our food. Companies would then write up estimates of how much they would charge to provide us with dining services and Brandeis would be able to choose to hire a new contractor or make another contract with Aramark. Up to this point nobody has heard anything about Brandeis sending out an RFP. Why not? My theory is that it has something to do with the fact that Joseph Neubauer is the CEO of Aramark, and his wife, Jeanette Lerman is on the Board of Trustees of Brandeis.

What a coincidence.