Aramark leaving Kent State leaves employees with questions

Vice President for Student Affairs Lamar Hylton. 

Kaitlyn Finchler Reporter

With Kent State ending the contract with Aramark, many student workers have questions about what will happen next.  

According to the university, no changes will be made to current employees. Vice President for Student Affairs Lamar Hylton said the plan is to “get everything set in motion” to be fully self-operated this July. 

“We have been evaluating how our campus and university experience will look as we come out of the pandemic and begin to repopulate our campus and really wanting to make sure that we’re meeting the needs of our students and our university community as we are moving in that direction,” Hylton said. 

According to Hylton, as these changes move forward, factors including food, healthy eating, quality and experiences of dining services as a whole were all factored into this decision.  

“We do have a commitment to making sure that students’ needs and preference helps to guide our decision making in this transition,” Hylton said. “There will be a host of students and ways that students can connect with our process in terms of transition that I hope students will connect with.” 

In regards to employees, the university has no plans of letting people go that don’t want to leave. 

“We will be offering the opportunity for current Aramark employees to consider transitioning to Kent State, [if] an employee desire[s] to do so,” Hylton said. “We’re working right now on determining the specific numbers of employees and what that staffing model and structure will look like.” 

Even with this change offered, many student workers have their own thoughts on Aramark. 

Graduate student Isabella Trevino was a student manager in dining services before Aramark came to Kent State as an undergrad and worked under Aramark for a few months into the transition. 

“They didn’t really want to use a lot of like the student management anymore, they really wanted to use their management team,” Trevino said. “So like, slowly but surely, they just made the conditions really unbearable as they were transitioning in, and a lot of us were just like ‘OK, well, I don’t want to work like this anymore.’” 

Trevino said that a lot of the general manager’s responsibilities and hours were left up to the student workers to handle. 

“I would come in at 6 o’clock in the morning and start up the store, cash out all the drawers and handle things that were way above where I should have been handling things as a student on campus,” Trevino said. “My manager, who should have come in before we would come in, would [show up at] 10; sometimes she wouldn’t come in at all. And they were cool with that.”  

Although Trevino said she didn’t have the best experience, not all students have bad experiences working for dining services. 

Sophomore psychology major Charlie Siemeck is currently employed for dining services and said they haven’t had any issues with the job. 

“I personally like the management a lot; I’ve never had any issues with any of the managers or anything like that,” Siemeck said. “It’s a pleasant working experience. Overall, I do enjoy going to work every day.” 

Aside from the financial implications of ending the contract, current employees were given as much of a notice of the changes as the rest of the university. 

“Basically what you guys know is what we got, we didn’t really get any further instruction on what to do,” Siemeck said.  

Hylton said the university is currently working on “large decisions” and are hoping to use the summer to “fine-tune” to be ready for the fall semester. 

“It would appear to me that between now and the beginning part of the summer that some of the larger and more key decisions would be made,” Hylton said. “We also are in the process of our hiring for some of those key decision making positions that we need to have in place in order to see those decisions realized in a timely way.”

Kaitlyn Finchler covers administration and enrollment. Contact her at [email protected]