Story by Bailey Mensch and Holly Keating
The new campus food truck policy will go into effect Nov. 1 but it is already leaving a bad taste in students’ mouths.
The Policy Development and Shared Operations Committee and the Auraria Higher Education Center voted 10-1 on Oct. 25 to approve a policy that would limit food trucks to appearing only on Mondays, and to only having four trucks present each time.
There’s another change: the food trucks had served as daily fundraisers for campus organizations. Now, MSU Denver groups will only benefit from the fundraising every third Monday, since all Auraria schools have to rotate weeks.
“Having food trucks on campus is sponsoring local business, gives us great food choices and helps with the largest funding options for student clubs,” said Becky Shin, an MSU Denver junior. “Food trucks may not be on other campuses, but Metro is looked at for being a great commuter school, and food truck choices give us that atmosphere.”
PODSOC said the food truck policy is not something new — these discussions have been taking place since April.
For students, however, the change seemed sudden and lacking in discussion.
“[I just heard] about the Food Truck policy meeting, and wanted more information,” said Hannah Harriman, a sophomore at MSU Denver. “This new policy is going to make it very inconvenient for students who are not on campus when food trucks are here.”
One of the major reasons for the new rules, according to the policy, was “in the interest of maintaining the equity of existing food operations on campus and due to limited space.”
Nathan Stern, owner of the Solar Roast food truck and student at UCD, was among the 25 students who attended the PODSOC meeting to offer public comment. He said that even with the new policy, the students who don’t want to eat at the on-campus vendors will find other options.
“Everyone has different tastes. If food trucks aren’t allowed on campus, students will eat downtown or at home,” Stern said. “Rather than increasing the money that goes into scholarships, bond fees and student organizations, these rules will take revenue away from [these organizations], which is not something that anyone wants.”
Since the trucks became regular vendors on campus, on-campus eateries have reported a decline in business.
Christina Aguilar, manager at Pete’s Arena, said the pizzeria has seen the effect firsthand.
“The trucks have shortened our business,” Aguilar said. “I think business has gone down by at least half on a daily basis. I actually had to cut back on labor because we’re not doing the same business that we usually do.”
Some of the food truck vendors, however, see a bright side to the change. For Manna From Heaven, a truck seen on campus every week, the policy will bring order and organization.
“The change is OK. We need some rules applied,” said a Manna From Heaven worker who wished to remain anonymous. “It’s a little crowded, and [has] gotten a little out of hand. But it’s nice that there’s a lot of trucks, because it offers more variety to students.”
At the PODSOC meeting, students were given 10 minutes for public comment, a time limit that spectators found problematic.
The committee reminded the attendees that there are student representative groups, like the Student Government Assembly and the Student Advisory Committee to the Auraria Board, set up to represent the student voice.
Still, many students said they felt that their voice was not taken into account.
“When food trucks are here, it gives more students opportunities to socialize with fellow students. Because Metro is a commuter school, there aren’t a lot of opportunities to get to know fellow students,” said Ian Bonesteel, an MSU Denver senior. “Metro is unique. For the college to create a policy that takes away uniqueness that students like doesn’t make sense.”