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Mackayle Weedon
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My name is Makaylee! I am going to be a senior majoring in Social Media Design Management. I am apart of the Phi Sigma Sigma Sorority chapter on campus! I love thrifting, photography, skiing and going...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas Wiertella April 30, 2024

Debate heats up over possible trayless shift

From April 20 to 25, cafeteria trays have been removed from campus dining facilities. While trays will be returned for finals week, NMU may be going trayless next year. On Monday, April 27, a forum will be held to give students a chance to voice their opinions about the pros and cons of going trayless.

The forum will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. on Monday, April 27 in the Marketplace. The proposed removal of trays from dining facilities will be discussed in the forum by representatives for and against it. Students will have a chance to comment at the event, which is being cosponsored by Dining Services and the Associated Students of NMU (ASNMU).

Greg Minner, the director of Dining Services, said the idea for a trayless initiative was already in place when he arrived at NMU in 2008.

“When I came, it was already on the agenda for the office, and in cooperation with (ASNMU, Housing and Residence Life and the President’s Round Table). We made it one of our ‘Road Map to 2015’ initiatives, under sustainability.”

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Minner said that going trayless would use less wash water and waste less food because students would be able to carry less to their tables. This would decrease NMU’s environmental impact and at the same time it would decrease wasted food, meaning less wasted money, said Minner.

“We’re trying to make sure that we don’t have to raise meal plan prices, but there’s no guarantee,” he said.

Minner said that more than 58 other universities have implemented similar trayless policies. He referenced a study by Aramark, a company that specializes in the food services industry, which said that Grand Valley State University (GVSU), a school similar in size and location to NMU, has received marked benefits from going trayless.

According to the study, GVSU has reduced food waste by 56 pounds per person per year, conserved 31,000 gallons of water and reduced overall waste by 14 tons per year since going trayless in the fall of 2007. The study said that going trayless has had an estimated annual economic impact of $79,000 for GVSU.

Minner said that he will be present at the forum to provide information, like the Aramark study, concerning the effects of going trayless.

“Dining services will provide information on what has happened on other campuses, but I think it is more of a student issue,” he said.

Jason Morgan, sophomore political science major and ASNMU president, said that while ASNMU has not taken an official position on the tray issue, it is participating in the forum to gauge student opinion.

“I don’t believe ASNMU should support or work against something until we know what students want, because then we aren’t doing our job,” said Morgan, who is helping organize the forum.

“I think that students should have the facts and then have an educated debate,” Morgan added. “A lot of students don’t have information- I want students to be more involved.”

Morgan also said that the forum will help those for and against going trayless to work together and share opinions. Junior public relations major Brice Burge will be present at the forum to speak against the initiative.

Burge has started a Facebook group, gathered over 600 signatures for a petition, and is organizing a protest concerning NMU going trayless.

Burge said that there are a lot of reasons why students don’t want to go trayless. He said that some people prefer the convenience of trays while others feel like they are being punished for other people’s wasting.

Burge said that he didn’t feel that students who disagree with going trayless are being represented accurately.

“Honestly the biggest problem in all of this was communication issues,” Burge said. “Students are the No. 1 patron of dining services, but are their thoughts and concerns being taken into consideration?”

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