By Cormac Quinn
A new school year often brings new changes, but not all of these differences come with approval. Changes in management at Sexton have subsequently brought changes to their operations that has left some students disgruntled. To cut costs and improve student workers’ livelihoods without sacrificing student satisfaction, the Sexton Caf began closing at 10 p.m. this year, with the Johnnie Java space operating new late-night hours. Now they must survive student scrutiny, some of whom feel their punch has lost value, or that the dining area has lost some social appeal.
The new management team, Julie Neuwirth and Br. Richard Crawford, started in February, giving them the summer to envision a profitable and effective new design. With a noticeable drop in sales in the late evening, there was a financial incentive to close the Caf earlier. An earlier closing time meant the clean-up process would finish-up earlier, so student workers could get home quicker. Despite these new efforts, workers have said they still aren’t returning to their dorms until past midnight; some of whom have 8 a.m. classes. The new closing time was compensated for through converting Johnnie Java into a snack bar and having it open until midnight. This reduced costs by requiring less space, products and personnel late at night.
Student responses have been mixed, with upperclassmen adjusting their habits, and first-years content with how things are.
A common critique of the new system came from Johnnies on the continuous plan. In the past, after dinner at the Reef, they used their “one-punch-a-day” on a midnight sub for the energy to keep studying into the morning hours. Since Johnnie Java doesn’t accept punches, they feel their punch has lost value.
Other upperclassmen were disappointed that their late-night hang out space had become desolate of student activity. With the Caf closed at 10 p.m., but the dining area remaining open until midnight, students have been reluctant to do homework or hangout there. A lack of communication gave a rocky landing for the new management’s overhaul at Sexton. They left the dining area open until midnight so student life could still be fostered within; but, without the Caf,
most students don’t find themselves in there past 10 p.m. When asked if they ate their late-night snack from Johnnie Java in the dining area, there was a look of surprise on the faces of first-years and seniors alike. Most were unaware Johnnie Java is open late, and that it serves pizza. The management at Sexton has been reactive to student opinion, and since Sunday have extended their hours to 10:30 p.m. every night. After an open forum during a SJU Senate meeting last Monday, by the end of the week they had changed their hours of operation. At the meeting, concerns were raised by students about their post-event get-togethers; citing Praise in the Pub and Sunday mass as examples.
The management has expressed its primary desire is to fulfill students’ needs, but finances cannot be overlooked. Neuwirth realizes this. “And now we know,” Neuwirth said.
A lack of clear communication has left students sour at the changes, but the management has reacted accordingly. The new system has left students vying for the old days, their traditions askew and stomachs rumbling. Over the semester, the new management must juggle economics, student life and customer satisfaction in the spotlight of the new academic year.