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January 13, 2023 | Meeting minutes

Tuesday, January 9, 2023

Residence Affairs Committee Meeting

Meeting Held on MS Teams from 2:00 – 3:00 PM


Present: Dana, Matthew, Andrea, Bailee, Lexi, Rubaina, Mustafa, Kevin, Namita, Renee
Regrets: Kenneth, Chef Eddy, Bhavisa


  • Kevin Dancy introduction
    • Sitting in for Tim who has vacated his role as Manager, Finance, Admin & Ops
      • Currently recruiting for the vacant role
    • Kevin is the Director of Residence Operations (Finance, operational success of the residences within Spaces and Experiences Residence portfolio)
    • Rubaina, she/her pronounces, Don for 7th floor.
    • Namita, 2nd year student, lives on the 7th floor. Upper year rep for Chestnut. Wanted to be involved for the analytical and behind the scenes aspect, and be a voice for the upper year students.


  • It was initially communicated that we would have a budget presentation today, however with Tim’s departure from Chestnut in mid-December, there was not time for Kevin (Director of Residence Operations) to prep to do the presentation for us today.
    • Service Ancillaries Review Group (SARG) budget presentation is taking place Jan 27, ideally RAC would hear the budget presentation before then. How does the group feel about an additional meeting before Jan 27 just for the budget presentation?
      • Kevin: would be doable the week of Jan 23 (not AM of the 24th or PM of the 26th); Mon 23, Wed 25 or PM of the 24 are doable.
      • Dana will find a date and schedule this in ASAP.

Department/AREa Updates

  • Residence Life – Dana & Bailee
    • Chestnut Residence Survey is still live, closing on Mon January 16 (Dana)
      • Meeting #3 will include a presentation of the results from the survey
    • Winter Term has begun / Move In (Dana)
      • Majority of residents moved back in over the weekend, starting Jan 7. By the time of this meeting almost all residents will be in room, but some will still trickle in this week and through the weekend.
    • Front Desk staffing update
      • Last week (week of Jan 1) and this week (week of Jan 8) we have had to close the Front Desk early, and we opened late on Sun Jan 8 due to staffing challenges.  An unplanned lengthy staff absence while other staff were off on extended holiday + unplanned illness on Jan 8. This did impact move in for some residents who arrived when Front Desk was closed, they may have had to be given one time access by security and then visit front desk again when it opened to check in and get keys.
      • We may need to close early next Mon Jan 16, at 8pm, this will be communicated on social channels if this is the case, and long-term solutions are in the works (staff returning from holiday and leaves, hiring additional part-time staff).
    • Residence Life Office is hosting a pop up on Wed Jan 11, 1-3pm, in the Lobby (Dana)
      • Learn about upcoming events, chance to win a prize, free snacks
    • Update on Urban Lounge Furniture (Dana – working with Andrea)
      • We are taking steps to move forward with reupholstering the furniture (red chairs). We are in the process of receiving quotes & choosing materials.
    • Don Hiring updates (Bailee)
      • 23-24 Don Team hiring is active, info here
      • Important dates:
        • First of two info sessions tomorrow Jan 11, virtual, 12-1pm (meeting link / meeting ID: 895 2299 5343 / passcode: 160027 – can also find on the website)
        • Second info session is next week, in person, Fri Jan 20 7-9pm in Urban Lounge
        • Application deadline, Sun Jan 22 at 11:59pm
    • Hearth is now open for students to use as a common area, hours of the Hearth match the Dining Hall hours (Dana)
      • Due to how the Hearth and Dining Hall are connected physically, security of the Dining Hall & fire egress requirements, we are not able to maintain this as a 24/7 space.
    • Food Delivery table in the Lobby removed Jan 7
      • Due to high rates of theft in fall semester & high volume of uncollected items that spoil (primarily the former)
      • Initially communicated to students in the Dec 16 issue of ‘Chestnut Chatter’, more comes out this week (social media, don meetings)
      • Would like to discuss the following at end of updates
        • Growing pains with the change in process
          • Delivery people sometimes just leave food in misc. places around the Lobby (chairs, benches) and not contacting residents to collect. Any ideas or preferences about what to do about this – so not to have a messy lobby? (i.e. if food delivery noticed by staff, to be tossed after a period of time has passed without it being collected? Food not to be left in lobby at all, taken with delivery person if resident not in lobby in reasonable timeframe?)
    • Admin & Finance – Kevin
      • Submitted the budget to Ancillary accounting, we will have a chance to update it over the next couple of months; will go through to SARG for review at end of Jan, and to Business Board before end of fiscal year (Apr)
      • Tim’s successor should be in place soon
      • Proceeding with a variety of procurements right now
      • Matthew will speak to urgent items going on (flood this week, and another back on Dec 27)
    • Food Services – Mustafa
      • Chestnut App Kitchen will open next week. It was delayed. There will be specials on a 2-week period + regular menu. Hours: M-F, 5-11pm. It will have additional variety that cannot be found in the Dining Hall, this will be an opportunity to try new food such as beef brisket sandwiches, and other comfort food items.
      • January dining hall events:
        • 18th Steak night
        • 19th national popcorn day – popcorn available with savory and sweet toppings
        • 22nd lunar new year – 3 course meal
        • 25th rib night; monthly birthday cake
    • Housekeeping & Rooms – Andrea
      • Staff came back last week from winter holiday, service and schedule is normal again
      • Garbage over the winter break, some concerns from students who stayed about the volume.
        • The # of students in room for the break were higher than previous years (highest ever, nearly 270). Learned that we need even more staffing if this is the case in future years to keep up with increased volume.
    • Building Operations – Matthew
      • Dec 27, flooding event on 3rd floor and impacted 2nd and Lobby floors too, remediation team is fixing up the 3rd floor.
        • Ongoing repairs of the 2nd floor as well. The timeline for this work is being updated tomorrow at a meeting.
        • Priority is the 3rd floor to restore it (carpet replacement, and drying out area, environmental testing)
      • Ballroom is a long-term and ongoing project to restore.
      • Rooms updates:
        • Some issues with shower areas leaking to lower rooms, repairing this and accommodating the students impacted.
        • Always want to remind students to report issues via the starrez portal or if urgent to the front desk or security
      • Team is still short-staffed. We only have staff until about 7pm on weekdays (U of T supplies emergency service after 7pm). We have a new staff starting soon, Gilbert.
    • Urban Crew – Renee
      • Restarted as of Jan 9.
      • Some students have not moved back in so there will be some shifts without a crew member this week.
      • One position is now vacant and we are filling this now.
    • Chestnut Residence Council – Bhavisa (absent), Bailee updated
      • They are doing financial planning training this weekend with Anika (Student Life Programs Coordinator).
      • They will be soon in the process of electing the floor reps.
    • Don – Lexi, Rubaina
      • Over the holiday break, some programming that was intended for students – Not a criticism for the execution but observations – not all programming took place as per the schedule.
        • Miscommunication to students who believed the program was scheduled and confirmed as advertised, and some of the staff were not present to run the program (staff might have seen the programming as optional?)
      • In conversation with Dons and feedback from the students, there has been sticker shock from prices that have increased in the Dining Hall when students returned to residence this week.
        • Concerns:
          • Lack of communication about the change in advance.
            • Action item: Would there be communication available by Sun Jan 15 floor community meetings?
            • Changes were a surprise to students
          • Timing of the change (mid-year)
          • Historical context of difficult dynamic with Food Services and Chestnut students (FS as a separate entity, a business)
            • Want to have better communication this year (compared to last year)
          • Can we cut out some of the extras in the Dining Hall (i.e. App Kitchen, or events that are held) in order to keep essential meal item prices down?
          • Limitations to supplementary funding and food banks, and less resources for students
            • Students were budgeting their finances for the year and weren’t anticipating the changes and chose their meal plan/adjusted their meal plans based on previous prices
            • Sometimes having 3 meals a day doesn’t always come as a choice and is budgetary.
            • Financial aid difficult to get
            • Food banks are more limited due to COVID or inflation, students get put on waitlists sometimes.
            • Looking at essential meals only (not snacks or say grill station), have gone up $3-4 per item in Dining Hall.
              • We took some time to crunch numbers, $336 increase from first semester alone for main meals with these increases (3 basic meals per day/7 days per week)
              • ~$10 increase per day for 3 meals compared to last semester.
            • Prices are being increased, we think, across campus and not just in Chestnut.
          • Namita’s input: have heard others talk about the price increase but not sure they have thought as far ahead as Lexi and Rubaina. Not all students eat the main meals every single day, or eat at CH every day (can use Tbucks elsewhere)
          • Renee’s input: students should be made aware of the prices being increased, and don’t think students were aware or might not be aware yet.
        • Mustafa’s comments:
          • All feedback is very important and will be taken back to the team and will consider everything you have shared, have been taking notes in this meeting.
          • Having a major price increase is something we never want to do, but the cost of many items has left as little choice and we had to pass on some of the increases back to the consumers
            • The consumer increase doesn’t cover the entire increase that Food Services has experienced.
          • For reference, Meal Plan prices for the year have increased every year as well.
          • Chestnut as a whole, we are available to support students if they have any financial need or are unable to support their food costs
          • Communication is a big aspect of this. We will make sure that we will do better over the semester and students are able to utilize the dining hall services.
    • Student Reps – Namita*optional
      • Nothing to report that hasn’t been discussed already

Additional DIscussion ITEMS

  • Food Delivery Table Removal
    • Lexi Question – what staff would be responsible for throwing food away? Assume this doesn’t fall under many staff roles
    • Rubaina – noticed that delivery drivers did wait, but students never came down and the delivery person left the food on the printer; suggest having signs for delivery staff in addition to communicating the change to students.


  • Supplementary meeting, Budget Presentation, week of Jan 23
    • RAC Meeting #3, week of Feb 13
      • Will include results of Chestnut Residence Survey
    • RAC Meeting #4, week of Mar 20