Over the last month, an anonymous user has been tweeting toilet-humored criticism about the food served in the UM dining halls by Chartwells under the alias @UM_Chartwells.
“Welcome Freshman! We hope your digestive tracks are ready for your first year away from home cooking,” read @UM_Chartwells’ first tweet on Aug. 17.
According to the person behind @UM_Chartwells, the account is not just the voice of the food service.
“I represent the collective thoughts of the student body that is required to eat at Chartwells on a regular basis,” the user said.
What started as a single contributor’s words has since expanded.
“We noticed that some people were responding to or retweeting pretty much everything we posted,” @Chartwells_UM said in a direct message over Twitter. “We sent them a message and they have since sent us a handful of tweets.”
Still, @UM_Chartwells, which has 314 followers, has been receiving mixed responses from the UM community.
“I think it’s funny and lighthearted,” said sophomore Maddie Hasbrouck, who has a Twitter and eats at the Mahoney/Pearson dining hall. “I don’t think it should be taken too seriously.”
Freshman Gianni Moskofides, who lives in Stanford, feels that the account is “intelligent and witty.”
“It’s not a big deal,” he said. “I understand if it was taking away business, but it’s not because, as students, we have to go there.”
Representatives at UM’s Dining Services Department, however, do not share Hasbrouck and Moskofides’ sentiments.
“We are working with the university’s media relations and Chartwells to determine precisely what is going on with this page,” said Sandra Redway, executive director for Auxiliary Services, which oversees dining services. “There are obviously procedures and protocols that we have to comply with, and we are in the process of doing that.”
Although at first glance the Twitter account looks like Chartwells’ official account, the Chartwells slogan was edited: “Eat. Learn. Poop.”
@UM_Chartwells may be violating Twitter’s trademark policy, which states that “using a company or business name, logo or other trademark-protected materials in a manner that may mislead or confuse others with regard to its brand or business affiliation may be considered a trademark policy violation.”
Since UM’s branch of Chartwells is considered an entity, the account can be removed because impersonating a person or entity on Twitter is not allowed.
The anonymous writer behind @UM_Chartwells thinks that the efforts to shut down the account are inefficient.
“Wouldn’t a more effective way of shutting me up be just to improve the food?” @UM_Chartwells said.
Freshman Traia Thiel, who lives in Hecht, feels that the account, while amusing, is not actually promoting change.
“I think if whoever is doing this is trying to make a point, they need to do something more grandiose,” Thiel said. “Their point is not being conveyed.”
Another Twitter account, @chartwellssucks, from Southeastern University in Lakeland, Fla., has the same idea. It complains yet shows approval of the food service in its 96 tweets.
There are also more than 30 Twitter accounts for various universities’ Chartwells branches around the country, and even in Canada. Those accounts, however, post daily menus and offer special deals to followers.