Aramark Corporation will now be providing alcoholic services to student societies, faculty and other groups who host events on campus.
This means shifting the responsibility away from the Dalhousie Student Union, according to Ivan Joseph, who is both the vice-provost of Student Affairs and the chair of the Dalhousie Alcohol Advisory Committee.
During the transition of these operations, Joseph said it is the university’s intention to “hire all the students that were in those positions before, or as many as we can.” The DSU will also continue to manage the campus bars.
Aramark is an international corporation that offers food services, facilities and uniform services to the fields of education, healthcare, business and corrections. Aramark provided Dalhousie’s food services before the new changes.
The decision came after a disagreement between the DSU and the Alcohol Advisory Committee in October. Joseph sent a memo to students that read, “the DSU issued a letter to the Board of Governors this week that it will no longer follow the University Alcohol Policy.”
The letter referenced is one the DSU sent to the Dalhousie Board of Governors on Oct. 15, in which they notified the university that they would no longer be involved in the “approval process for licensed events,” meaning licensing the service of alcohol during society events at the Grawood and T-Room.
This was becoming a large source of confusion between the DSU and those applying.
“I thought getting our event approved would not be an issue. However, it required copious amounts of cooperation between myself, the Grawood, and the DSU,” said an email from Meagan Kettley, Vice-President (Internal) of the Dalhousie English Society.
“It took over a month to get the event approved, even though I was told in the past that because it was through the Grawood, that it shouldn’t be an issue.”
With the transition to Aramark, Kettley hopes for change. In an email, she said: “Hopefully, with a professionally maintained organization like Aramark, who has regulations and procedures to follow, like the DSU did but ignored, this will be different.”
Prior to the fall term, the licensing and approvals was the responsibility of the liquor licence designate, traditionally the DSU’s general manager.
Over the summer, the DSU Executive restructured their staff, firing the general manager and director of Licensed Operations. The DSU recommended that the licence designate be their director of Operations, one of the positions created through restructuring.
The university appointed Janice Tate, general manager of the University Club, for the licence designate position. According to an October interview with DSU President Aisha Abawajy, Tate began asking DSU employees to work on approvals, causing the confusion between DSU staff and societies applying.
“That led us to this state where we suspended alcohol, and then we looked to reinstate it with them managing just the bar, and us managing other things,” said Joseph. “This is a result of, ‘how can we move forward in a productive way?’ So we don’t find ourselves in that situation again.”
More issues may be on the horizon for the DSU when it comes to alcohol licensing. Director of Operations Jennifer Nowoselski has resigned from her position, Grawood employee Maddie Stinson announced at the DSU council meeting on Wednesday Jan. 15.
According to Stinson, this left the Grawood without a manager, and vulnerable to closure by the Nova Scotia Alcohol and Gaming Commission.
A job posting has been sent out and they are looking to fill the position as soon as possible, said Abawajy at the meeting.
Several council members said this was the first they had heard of the resignation, while Abawajy said she had been given a two-week notice.
According to Meagan Kettley, communication and transparency from the DSU executive has been a concern on the society’s side as well. “There are never answers or explanations for why they do the things they do, and I hope that this does not build a pattern for future executive members.”
A DSU spokesperson told the Dalhousie Gazette no executive would be available for interview in time for deadline.
Correction: A previous subhead in this story referred to Aramark taking over Dal's liquor licence. In fact, Aramark is providing bar services for all licensed areas except for DSU licensed establishments.