Students raise concerns for lack of dining services training

Former supervisor alleged of ‘inappropriate boundaries’ still employed by CWU


Megan Rogers

Former dining service employees say training was rushed.

Megan Rogers, Assistant News Editor

Student employees in dining services continue to raise concerns about communication and training shortcomings as they have for over a year, as reported by The Observer last winter.

Lack of training and communication

A former dining services employee who wished to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of the topic said, while their overall experience working in dining was positive, one of the biggest issues was the lack of communication. 

“A lot of the times, upper management would maybe tell the managers on the floor some things but it wouldn’t get back to student workers or to chefs as quickly as it probably should have,” they said. 

The student said the training for student employees was very limited. 

“They’ll throw you onto a station, and you’ll get trained by somebody, but sometimes, it’s not completely accurate, especially if it’s another student worker who’s training you,” they said. 

According to the student, training should be done by the student coordinators, but there were some times when a coordinator wouldn’t be on shift when a new employee needed to be trained. 

“I’ve had new student workers be pushed on me when I used to work there, and I was never a coordinator,” they said. 

The student said one of the reasons they left dining services was because the lack of communication was never fixed. 

Liam Rebol, a sophomore studying geology, worked for Panda Express in the North Side Commons from January to the middle of June 2022. He said he felt his training was rushed. 

“I got maybe a day of being told what to do,” Rebol said. “I worked in food service beforehand, so I was pretty comfortable in the kitchen already. But I wasn’t really given a ton of support or anything for [Panda Express] specifically.”

Former supervisor investigated for ‘inappropriate boundaries’ still employed in dining

During an interview with The Observer, Dean Masuccio, CWU dining and catering director, confirmed that Ryan Aspiri is still currently employed by CWU’s dining services as a Food Service Worker Lead at Panda Express. According to Masuccio, the Food Service Worker Lead is essentially a “wok cook.” 

According to an article by The Observer (See: “Dining services supervisor investigated for ‘inappropriate boundaries’”) allegations were expressed by multiple witnesses and complainants that Aspiri exhibited inappropriate behavior to female students while working in March of 2021, including alleged comments about the bodies of female employees. 

The HR report said, “Based upon information gathered during the investigation it does not appear that conduct of a sexual nature created an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment.”

The Observer reached out to Aspiri on Feb. 18 for comment, but did not receive a response. The Observer asked Masuccio and Human Resources about why Aspiri is still employed at CWU, and they declined to comment at this time. 

Dining and catering director responds to concerns 

Masuccio said one way he is trying to improve communication within dining services is by listening to the staff. 

“Over the past year I’ve met with every single staff member just to kind of do a reset and just learn from each of our full-time staff members, but not including students,” Masuccio said. 

According to Masuccio, another way they are trying to improve communication is by the introduction of different levels of student leadership positions, such as student coordinators and student managers. 

If students bring up that they feel there is a lack of training, Masuccio said the first thing they do is listen and then talk to the team to see what they are doing to address the gaps, as well as continuously look at the onboarding process for dining services. 

“I’ve heard, through anecdotal data points, that our onboarding experience isn’t to the levels that maybe students are expecting or that even we’re expecting, so how do we continue to look at ways to improve it,” Masuccio said. “It’s definitely something that we’re continuously working on.”

The Observer asked Masuccio to respond to the experience the former dining employee had where new workers were pushed on them even though they were not a student coordinator. 

“I don’t have all the context of that experience with that situation … we all have a role in supporting the success of our teammates,” Masuccio said. “So not that it’s their direct responsibility to train and onboard a new student, but even as a unit level student employee we’re all supporting the vision of our program, so they are not solely responsible for it but they likely are supporting pieces of it.”

Masuccio said he will continue to put in the effort to create a safe working environment within the dining services programs. 

“I expect our teams to address situations that are brought to their attention in the appropriate manner to bring in resources from campus as necessary to support whatever the situation may be,” Masuccio said. “We try to introduce as much training to our programs so that students understand that they have a voice in their experiences and to use that voice.”