The Huge Impact of HDH

Pines dining hall. (AJ Peterson/The Triton)

Housing*Dining*Hospitality (HDH) influences the lives of students from the moment they enter this campus, hugely impacting where students live and work. It’s important to ask, given HDH’s prominence, if they’re serving the student body effectively.

In some senses, HDH is good for campus; providing jobs for work-study and student workers in general is important. HDH employs a large number of students and offers multifaceted work all over campus. This is legitimately useful. While working for HDH may not be a glamorous job, it can help ease the financial burden of many students at UCSD. Yet, it still matters that we critique the kind of employer they are.

One former HDH employee (who wished to remain anonymous) told me that while he was able to acquire the HDH job easily, he felt there was “little room for career advancement without sacrificing the time and years of services that could otherwise be spent on research and relevant internships.” HDH offers students the opportunity to advance in HDH markets and dining halls on campus, but this experience was not deemed relevant by the former HDH worker. He said it only seemed helpful if one planned a future working at a supermarket.

HDH pays employees minimum wage and an on-the-house meal for every shift. This information is not exactly public though, as you must have a Port Triton account to access all salary information. In fact, salaries are not listed anywhere on HDH’s website. Plus, although HDH employs a large number of students, quantity over quality is not always preferable. In fact, student workers report feeling pitted against each other to out-perform for the few higher level positions, which pay just fifty cents more than minimum wage.

[Related: HDH is here to serve you?]

The former HDH worker I spoke with was unimpressed by the incentives of HDH work. He anecdotally offered that there is a rule that employees “get a pickle pin, if someone writes a good feedback slip about you, that you then must wear on you all times at work.”  He found this requirement to be demoralizing when you have not been praised for your work and infantilizing when you have. There’s no upside other than a tiny pickle pin, which may be enough for some HDH workers.

But if students are demoralized by their work, they are also demoralized by their living conditions. In terms of housing, we all know there is general overcrowding. Overflow housing is common; both ERC and Marshall students have to house people in Revelle.This problem has lead to an unfortunate shortcut: mini doubles and other crowded living spaces. Mini doubles, which are converted singles, may be monetarily efficient, but yield almost no space for belongings, and, as many mini-double dwellers will complain, don’t even have a real desk. The smallest mini double is 9 feet by 5 feet, which is essentially the size of a small shed.

In addition to mini-doubles, some doubles have been converted into triples with lofted beds and desks underneath. This cramming of students into confined spaces is bad for disease spread, morale, and general health. It forces 10 to 12 students into a space designed for eight with no mention of the overcrowding at all.

Also, students are guaranteed less and less housing each year. Since the 2014-15 school year, the housing guarantee, formerly four years long, has been decreased two years, forcing students who desire to live conveniently on campus to seek out alternatives after only two years. This was instituted at the same time mini doubles were created. It is shortcuts like this that HDH and UCSD are taking to accommodate the needs of incoming students, shortcuts that should not be happening at the student’s cost.

Since people want to live on campus, they are forced to go through HDH, meaning that HDH has free reign to force students into tight quarters and not listen to student demands. HDH plans to build new residence halls in the coming years, though UCSD also is admitting more students than ever before. As the largest student employer, landlord, and food vendor, it is important that HDH listens to the students. Moving forward, we must not recreate the same overcrowding issues, and instead, take the time to establish sustainable growth of the university’s housing.

Jordan Packer is an opinion writer for The Triton. This post is part of a series on HDH. This article is the third in a series on HDH. See the other articles here and here.

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