Scott Glenn in one of the supervisor's who works at the Rathbone dining hall. He has been working in the food service industry for about thirteen years. (Ellie OliverB&W Staff)

Food for thought: Dining employees feel part of the Lehigh community

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Eating at Lehigh dining halls is part of many on-campus students’ daily routines.

Though it might not be noticeable as students grab their food, Rathbone employees find that a community is created between students and staff during meals.

Three Lehigh dining employees spoke to The Brown and White about their experiences working and forging relationships on campus.

Q: How long have you worked at Rathbone?

Brijesh Goharia, a graduate student at Lehigh and part-time cashier at Rathbone: It’s been almost three months (since I’ve been) in the United States and three months at Rathbone.

Scott Glenn, a supervisor at Rathbone: I’ve been here since July of this year. I actually came from another college, and a different company, so I’m new to Lehigh, but I’m not new to this. I’ve been doing food service for about thirteen years now, in restaurants as well as (universities).

Lauren Sleeger, the director of Rathbone and Brodhead: I’ve been at Lehigh for three years, but I’ve been in this industry for many, many years. I’ve been with Sodexo for five, but this was ultimately my goal to get to Lehigh, so I had to bounce around a couple of different places, to get to here.

Q: What are your daily responsibilities?

BG: I usually interact with the people who come over here, swipe cards and basically just make (students) happy at the first interaction in Rathbone.

SG: There’s a lot of moving parts. It’s basically just keeping things fresh, keeping things full and keeping things safe and clean and neat, because this is (the) students’ home while they’re at school. They live here basically for four years, and we are more or less guests in your home, even though (dining) is a service you’re paying for. So that’s why we try to get the input from the students on what they want to see coming and what they want to change.

LS: I oversee the Rathbone and Brodhead operation: hiring, scheduling – basically all the day-to-day (operations). I make sure that (students are) happy and satisfied.

Q: What has been your experience working at Lehigh?

BG: It’s good, actually. I get to interact with people from different countries, mindsets, individualities and genders. Some are welcoming, some are happy, some are rude (and) some are good.  

SG: It’s good. It’s like any job. There are good days and bad days but for the most part, it’s good. Everybody likes to eat, so it’s not really that hard of a job. You get to meet a lot of interesting people.

LS: I love Lehigh. Every university student body has its own characteristics and its own likes and dislikes and Lehigh (students) — I was just telling one of our applicants earlier — work hard, play hard and are so polite. You know, I just think the world of you guys. I love the fact that if I’m coming in the door with my hands full that I know that somebody’s going to open the door, or if a student forgets their card that a student that they don’t even know is going to guest swipe them in. I think it’s sweet, and there’s not much I wouldn’t do for (students).

Q: What is your impression of Lehigh students?

BG: Oh, they are fantastic. They are welcoming, and Lehigh is a cosmopolitan in its own nature. It’s a small country, like a small world in its own way. People do not bother each other — they are happy and interact with each other.

SG: Very busy. Students guys always seem to be on the go. They are very polite when they come in and seem very appreciative of the work that everybody does, which is great because a little appreciation goes a long way. And as you know, I’m here longer, and I get to see more students coming in. I get to know who they are. At my last job I knew where they lived, I knew where their parents lived, I knew what their majors were. So, it’s kind of that relationship that you build up just by talking to people.

LS: Lehigh students are very respectful, a lot of fun, super smart and very unique. (The dining staff) try to look at each (student as an individual) and make sure that we are being as flexible as possible to accommodate and be as inclusive as possible. My first couple of Saturdays with some of the fun outfits that students wear was definitely unique, but, you know, we were all college kids one day or at one point.

Q: Do you feel integrated into the Lehigh community?

BG: Of course, yeah. From my very first day at Lehigh, I felt really welcome from the OS’ office to the lady who interviewed me, (Sleeger), director of Rathbone. My interaction with everybody was really good, and I received a very warm welcome from the OS’ office, from the Rathbone director, (Sleeger), and every student, so yeah I appreciate it.

SG: Yeah, yeah definitely, probably more so than my last position, just because of the way the company is integrated on campus. I mean I have my own Lehigh email and my own access to Lehigh’s systems. I didn’t necessarily have that at my last job, even though it was still a supervisor position, and I felt very much like a vendor in some respects. Here, however, I feel very much part of the team at Lehigh. 

LS: Yes, I think my responsibility is to make sure that I understand what (students) are doing everyday, and what’s important to (them) so that I can come back to my staff and say, “listen, this is what they’re looking for, this is what’s happening today or next week,” so that (the staff) can adapt to that and make sure we understand what’s going on, whether it be 4 o’ clocks, or Le-Laf, or whatever the situation is. I find one of the most rewarding parts of my job is to be out there and get to know (students). I just took a couple of students that work for the sustainability office down to a conference down in Philadelphia to speak on the Real Food Challenge and all of the sustainability efforts. So the more I can be out there, integrated with the Lehigh community, you know, I think we are speaking the same message and we are more as one, as opposed to dining services and student body.

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