Flames of the Torch

For the second year in a row, Marillac Hall Cafeteria failed its initial health inspection by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Last year, however, the majority of violations was caused by improper filing of paperwork; this year, the food court earned a whopping 52 violation points all on its own.

The amount of violation points that a food facility needs in order to pass is 27. Marillac exceeded almost twice the legal amount. Some of the violations that Marillac was charged for included: “Food contact surface not properly washed, rinsed and sanitized after each use and following any activity when contamination may have occurred” and “Evidence of flying insects or live flying insects present in facility’s food and/or non-food areas.”

In the latest inspection conducted on October 22, the city department gave Marillac 27 points, which is barely passing on its scale. This is a remarkable achievement, however, considering that the amount of violation points was halved in just two and a half weeks. Ken Waldhof, the head of auxiliary services on campus, and the rest of his department should be commended for getting right on board and fixing the problem as fast as they could after the report was released. Waldhof and those in the auxiliary services exemplify the type of dedication students would want when it comes to ensuring their health and safety.

The University itself also deserves credit for not closing down Marillac Cafeteria after the first health inspection failure. Thousands of students depend on it for food, so closing it down completely would mean a mass exodus of students rushing to the University Center or Law School cafeterias at lunchtime, thereby further complicating things.

However, the University did an extremely poor job in notifying its students of the health inspection failure in Marillac. The TORCH interviewed many students at Marillac recently and found that nearly no one knew about the violations, even though the initial inspection had occurred a whole 17 days prior.

All that was there to make students aware of the inspection failure was an 8 x 11 sized paper on the wall next to the cash register that displayed the results of Marillac’s inspection.

Much more could have been done to inform students of the inspections. After all, just a few weeks ago, major media outlets praised the University for its ability to get emergency messages across to students quickly. In the future, St. John’s should utilize its e-mailing system better to make sure that students know what they are getting themselves into when eating at Marillac Hall Cafeteria. Even, at the very least, a bigger poster could have been placed by the cash registers in Marillac Cafeteria, to catch busy students’ attention.

Luckily, Marillac passed its follow-up inspection, which is a major testament to the University’s ability to quickly react to problems. In the event of future failures, let’s just hope St. John’s makes a bigger effort to inform its student body.