New QU dining system disappoints students

Nicole McIsaac, Associate News Editor

The spring 2021 dining experience is off to a rough start as students face difficulties using the new dining system app, Transact.

The waits are long and everything is so backed up,” said Natalie Armstrong, a junior physical therapy major. “My order has been misplaced/disappeared multiple times since I’ve been here.”

Previously using the Boost Mobile app last semester, QU Dining had limited time to work with Transact before student arrival. In addition to inaccurate order times, some students are frustrated with the lack of options that the system makes available for ordering.  

When ordering breakfast foods like omelettes and breakfast burritos, there should be an option to choose no meat,” Armstrong said. “The choices on the app are limited especially for those with dietary restrictions like vegan/vegetarian. They should not be forced to pick meat or settle with vegan sausage inside their food.”

Despite disappointment with wait times and restrictions, students have voiced their concerns regarding how the university is following COVID-19 social distancing policies.

The long wait times outside of dining halls due to mobile ordering has caused crowding despite COVID-19 guidelines. (Nicole McIsaac)

“The number of people congregating in the dining hall, whether picking up online orders or placing in-person orders, poses a health risk,” said Kat DiGhello, a sophomore nursing major. “Personally, I have witnessed students violating QU’s COVID-19 policy by wearing their masks improperly, not social distancing and eating in the dining hall.”

DiGhello said the university could improve these issues by establishing a wide spread of different designated pick-up locations for the mobile online ordering.   

“When the QU Dining utilized the app Boost, the pick-up locations for all online orders was in the Student Center,” DiGhello said. “I feel as though this system was more efficient and decreased the number of people in Café Q at a time and provided for a better and swifter turn around for order completion.”

A recent post on Quinnipiac Barstool’s Instagram raised the same concerns of students having to wait in crowded lines and dining areas. 

“Last night (Jan. 24), there were over 100 people probably before they made an announcement that ‘if you have food then please check out’,” said Amanda Ertman, a junior sociology and elementary education major. “QU Dining needs someone to monitor how many people are in Rocky Top dining.”

When an online order is placed on the app, students are given an order number and estimated tracker to follow upon arriving to pick up their food. Ertman said that unlike the previous system that used names, having a number has made pre-ordering food more difficult.  

“I don’t like the fact that our names are no longer on the order, just the order number,” Ertman said. “That makes it harder to see where your order is and people are touching your order to try and find theirs.”

Tom Ellett, chief experience officer, said in an email sent to students and parents on Jan. 26, that QU Dining typically has longer wait times at the beginning of the semester, but that COVID-19 restrictions also played a part in the delays so far. 

The situation this weekend also was driven by the many health and safety protocols we have put in place as part of our campus arrival containment period. There was much planning and pre-testing over the break, but the app encountered unexpected technology issues on its first day, which also contributed to the long wait times,” Ellett wrote. 

In response to complaints raised by students and their families, all QU Dining locations have opened as of Jan. 25, and have seen a significant decrease in wait times. All mobile ordering and pickup is now located in the Student Center Room No. 119, Café Q, The Grill, Deli and Breakfast & Co. In addition, walk-up orders are now available at Au Bon Pain and Starbucks. 

“Our goal is to be responsive to issues raised by students and parents,” Ellett wrote in the email. “I invite everyone interested to join our next Dining Services Advisory Board meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 3, at 5 p.m., on the second floor of the Student Center.” 

Students with any questions or concerns are encouraged to reach out to Tom Ellett at  [email protected] or [email protected].