Anna Barrett, The Chanticleer
Kiwibot director of operations John Tarin showed off the new on-campus food delivery robot to the Board of Trustees on Monday.
Among the changes coming to JSU this fall, Dex the delivery robot is one of them. The robot will be able to deliver from any of the on-campus dining locations, including the new additions.
A ghost kitchen, which is a dining location that only offers take out and delivery orders, will replace the Gamecock Diner. Instead of the physical dining location, Mr. Beast Burger, Mariah Carey Cookies, Buddy V’s Cake Slice and Pardon My Cheesesteak will have their kitchens there. Dex will be able to deliver food on campus from these new options, according to Dr. Kevin Hoult, associate vice president of auxiliary and business services.
“They trust influencers and if they have a positive experience, they are more likely to promote that brand. We at JSU want to create that positive experience for our students,” Hoult said.
The Kiwibot robot will be able to make about two deliveries per hour, with a delivery fee of $2 plus 10% of the cost of the order, according to Stephen Moyer, senior manager of Sodexo.
This delivery fee makes Dex less expensive than other delivery services. Grubhub, DoorDash, Postmates and UberEats have an average of $3.29 for their delivery and service fee.
Tarin said there will be 15 Kiwibots on campus for the first month, then the company will reevaluate and decide if JSU needs more or less.
“The idea is to reach everyone, that’s the truth,” Tarin said.
He also said there will be a Kiwibot team on campus to assist, which may include a team to assist with deliveries to close proximity off-campus housing like The Point, College Apartments and Campus Inn Apartments.
Moyer said that orders will be placed on the Everyday App and can even be scheduled. He said there is also a possibility that Dex would be added to the list of meal plan options.
Hoult announced that there will be a new form of on-campus dining payment for non-resident students – Cocky Bucks. He said this will be a mandatory fee of $275 for first-time freshmen living off campus that are taking at least six credit hours.
Dr. Arlitha Harmon, senior vice president of finance and administration, said this new addition is provided with Sodexo’s contract and is not at the cost of the university. Kiwibot is a partner with Sodexo across the country, with a projected 50 schools to have their last-mile delivery service that uses robots.
“It’s a part of their offerings to support the students on campus,” she said.
Harmon also gave the board an update on the university’s current projects, including the stadium expansion project and the Randy Owen Center for the Performing Arts (ROC).
The expansion project will now be separated into two parts, splitting into the football operations facility and dining facility and residential housing. This new plan eliminates the $20 million cost of a parking deck and lowers the cost of the new housing building while also increasing the number of beds from 300 to about 500, according to Hoult.
With this plan, both parts would be completed by August 2024, according to Harmon’s presentation. The location of the separate housing would be on the north side of campus between Patterson Hall and Sparkman Hall.
JSU president Don Killingsworth was approved to start negotiations with the First Baptist Church of Jacksonville to purchase land for the ROC, lessening the cost of the foundation of the performing arts center.
The finance office is focused on improving the quality of life for students and faculty at JSU. To do so, they applied for a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency that totals to $17.46 million, according to Harmon’s presentation. This grant will go towards improving the air quality in dorms, adding touchless bathroom appliances and touchless bottle fillers campus wide.
As ambitious as these plans sound, Hoult said, they will get done.
“We have great leadership here on campus first and foremost,” Hoult said. “We are committed to the project, and we are committed to seeing the project completed.”