When students arrived back on Mayflower Hill at the beginning of the fall semester, many were surprised and dismayed to find out that the Joseph Family Spa had vastly reduced hours. Rather than having three meals a day during the week, and lunch and dinner on weekends, the Spa axed breakfast entirely and is open only for dinner on Saturday and Sunday.
This change threw students off, as many rely on the Spa for a quick bite to eat between commitments.
According to Richard Backstrom, General Manager of Colby Dining Services, this decision was primarily made because of budgeting and students’ needs.
“Over the years, we’ve gotten students saying that they want longer dining hours. They want more options. Unfortunately, the dining program has a specific budget, so we’re given a certain amount of funds to manage the dining program. With that, we have to take into account when we give employee raises [and] food costs — food costs have gone up about 20 percent overall — and so we have to account for that. We realized that the Spa breakfast was the least participated in. It had the least number of people, and it made more sense for us to take that piece away and move those dollars, those hours, to Bob’s, so you guys can have continuous service in Bob’s,” he said.
Backstrom said that he has been getting positive feedback about the changes.
“We’ve gotten great reviews with the change, and we know that reducing the hours of the Spa hurt some students, but we feel like the benefit of having continuous service, as well as the Eco To-Go program, make up for it,” he said.
While Backstrom said he was hearing great reviews, many students have expressed their annoyance with the Spa’s lack of hours.
“You can’t even walk through and get coffee anymore in the morning. And they used to have the best breakfast sandwiches. It was so easy just to grab something on your way to class,” Maeve Downes `23 said.
“I wish Dana was the dining hall open all day because Bobs is far away. The Spa was very convenient because it’s in the center of campus,” Raizel McNally `23 said.
Even though the Spa hours were nearly halved this year, Backstrom pointed out that there were more dining hall hours overall.
“We actually have more hours now. We are open more hours, even though you are seeing less hours at the Spa. But the Spa was always designed as a take-four program, so it’s not a full dining hall. We feel that it’s more beneficial for students to dine in the dining halls because you have more options. You have full meals, lots of different choices, lots of different options, and the Spa is limited. It’s sandwiches, salads and snacks.”
However, many students do not see it the same way as Backstrom.
“It used to have much better hours. It’s a hassle to walk across campus for light food when we could get full meals at the Spa anytime. It should be open on the weekends,” Ainsley Dion `25 said.
“It’s just annoying that we can’t even get prepackaged things on the weekend. It’s so convenient, so it should have better hours,” Karena Andreassen `25 said.
“One time, I walked all the way to the Spa to get lunch, and then it was closed and I was sad,” McNally continued.
Though the Spa’s hours may be a disappointment to many students, Backstrom pointed out a positive that all students have enjoyed.
“With the reduction of the hours in the Spa, we also changed how you use your swipes. Students on the unlimited plan get three swipes a day in the Spa. Last semester, you could only use it one per meal. Now it’s three any time of the day. And that is a big help to students who want to load up on snacks,” he said.
And, more than anything, the dining hall staff wants to hear students’ opinions so they can make positive changes in the future.
“We’re always looking for ways to improve our dining program through our surveys, through our communication with students, talking to students on dining advisory, and overall those changes were made because we had to stay within that budget,” Backstrom said.
According to Backstrom, the opinion cards in the dining halls are actually read and students can participate in the dining advisory board, which will start back up next semester, so if you have an opinion to share, do not hesitate to have your voice heard.
~ Mairead Levitt `25
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