BY HARRISON BLUTO
The student Solutions kiosk has been closed since the start of Spring 2019 semester.
Photo courtesy of The Chaparral.
COD is working on plans to reopen the student ran Roadrunner Cafe, located on the Indio campus soon during this Spring semester. The student kiosk located on the Palm Desert campus; however, has more issues involved with its closing that leaves its potential to reopen in question, according to COD’s Dean of the School of Applied Sciences and Business, Zerryl Becker.
“Even though we sell packaged food, the health department decided we needed a license to sell,” says Becker as to why the Roadrunner Cafe had to close. The Roadrunner cafe debuted in the Fall semester of 2018 and was an indoor kiosk rather than an outdoor kiosk similar to the Palm Desert student store.
One does not need a food handler’s license when selling pre-packaged food; however, fresh food does require it. Becker suspects that the selling of pre-packaged TKB sandwiches at both kiosks might have been what triggered the requirement for the fresh food specific license. Becker says that the store will most likely drop the item entirely if the sandwiches are the cause of the required license. The requirement for the license is the main reason for the Roadrunner Cafe’s closing in Indio.
The student kiosk on the Palm Desert campus; however, had the problem of too many small issues piling up.” says Becker. The main issue was the closing of the Hilb building for renovations. Storage for the snack stand moved to the maintenance building on the other side of campus from the kiosk snack stand.
This meant that setting up and closing took an hour, restocking became an issue and the kiosk computer moved to the business building. These issues meant that running the kiosk for students became more and more about keeping the store running and less about the overall business running experience it was initially created for.
The old model of paying student workers a stipend based on the kiosks earnings is what Becker says is the biggest issue.“The definition of unpaid now means no pay whatsoever, not even a gift card.” The stipend model was a convenient way to give students work credit as well as money for compensation for their work but now is illegal if continued.
Unpaid workers need 60 hours of work per unit whereas paid workers need 75 hours of work per unit. The average kiosk worker, according to Becker, signs up for three units of labor changing their time put in from 180 to 225. “The kiosk does not make nearly enough money to pay students for those hours.”
Another issue that is created by paying students for hours of work is that a supervisor is required to be overlooking the kiosk at all times that is not a faculty advisor. The issue of the Hilb building closing and the new definition of unpaid labor are the reasons for the Palm Desert campus student kiosk closing.
The Solutions student kiosk was initially created under the supervision of the Dean of the School of Social Sciences, Arts & Media, Kelly Hall, who was a professor of Business at the time. According to Hall, the kiosk was created “as an instructional opportunity for Retail Management students.” Hall said that, through the kiosk, students could enroll in a work experience class, earn transferable credits,\ and get paid a stipend at the end of the semester based on the kiosk’s earnings.
“It was nice having a snack station in the middle of campus,” says COD student James Via. With the closing of the student kiosk, the only non-snack machine places to get food are the Beeps Cafe and the bookstore located in the Cravens building. That means that if students want to grab a quick snack before class, they have to go to the opposite end of campus from most lecture buildings.
“It was a nice, chill place to stroll up to with friends in between classes,” said COD student Rachel Garcia. Rachel misses the environment the kiosk had as well as the options of snacks available that couldn’t be purchased anywhere else on campus. Many students share this sentiment of a friendly atmosphere and convenience of the store.