MSA and RHA dissatisfied with survey results

MSA and RHA are considering conducting another survey about trayless dining.
The Residence Halls Association is working to create a ballot referendum to ask students if they support trayless dining. Campus Dining Services is hesitant to remove trays without a majority of student support. Maneater file photo

The Residence Halls Association is in talks to conduct another student survey concerning trayless dining.

RHA President Robert Wood needs 5 percent of students living in residence halls to sign a petition to get the referendum on the ballot of RHA elections next Thursday. The referendum will allow every resident to vote on the issue instead of trying to take a representative sample.

The removal of trays from dining halls to cut down on waste remains a top issue for both the RHA and the Missouri Students Association, despite a survey RHA conducted last semester showing less than 30 percent would approve.

Doubt concerning the accuracy of the survey has been expressed in recent MSA and RHA meetings.

"I believe there were lots of problems with the survey that even RHA themselves have acknowledged," MSA President Jordan Paul said. "It was not done as well as it could have been."

Trayless dining was one of Paul's main campaign platforms.

"I didn't feel it was an accurate sample," Wood said. "Through technical difficulties, it didn't reach every building."

Wood described the original survey results as "undesirable."

Multiple MSA senators have also called for another trayless dining survey, among them Student Affairs Committee Chairman Paul Whiteside, whose committee met with Campus Dining Services two weeks ago to talk about healthy eating options and trayless dining.

"They were not conducted on a major scale, nor were they efficiently distributed," Whiteside said. "While I don't believe another survey would reveal definitive support for trayless dining, it may give us a more accurate representation of how strongly the students on campus feel about the issue."

CDS is educating students about portion sizes. Signs tell students how much each hall is wasting and how a couple ounces per student equals major environmental impact. Since the waste tracking began, CDS Marketing Specialist Andrew Lough said the waste has gone down.

Lough said one of the largest problems with the survey was the lack of education that went with it. Students weren't given enough information about the implications of trayless dining. Although it's less convenient, it could reduce waste, which would keep dining costs and environmental detriments down.

Paul said students might not be receptive toward trayless dining at first, but he has hopes it can be accomplished over time.

"I would like to see trays phased out over the summer, perhaps, and then taken out of dining halls completely next year, as long as we don't have people rioting in the streets over them," Paul said.

Lough said other universities have tried going trayless without student support and the results have gone both ways.

"We want to do it with students, not to them," Lough said.

CDS is also hesitant to go forward with removing trays from its dining halls because of a lack of student support.

"I believe recent surveys said around 70 percent of student disapprove of trayless dining and that's too low for us to take trays out of dining halls right now," CDS Nutrition Coordinator Magda Mello said in a previous Maneater report. "We want to have student support before we do something that drastic."

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