Opinion: Changes needed in College’s dining services
By Riley Park, Opinions Editor
The dining facilities on this campus are no longer large enough to accommodate the student population. For those of you with a short attention span or who are in a rush and just glancing at the first sentences of articles to get an idea of what they’re about and whether you want to read them, there. It’s over. You can now go about your business if you so choose. Or, you can continue reading. I leave it up to you.
Decided to continue? Great. Let’s get this thing started.
I want to make it abundantly clear that I think the food and the food staff here are great. I love them. I don’t mean that in a loose way either; I love them. Linda, Maribeth, Sue, Kim, Bri, Walt (even though I’m pretty sure he hates me), McLovin and all the others are fantastic human beings. You all see them day in and day out, ceaselessly helping you to get your food and enjoy it. I’m sure the cooks who make the food for Servo are equally wonderful; I just have never met them. So I will have to just assume that because their food is awesome, they too are awesome. Everyone’s awesome. That’s not what this article is about.
This about the fact that during lunchtime in Servo today I witnessed, not just a few, but many groups of people actively walking around looking desperately for a place to sit and eat. I’ve seen packs of wide-eyed first-years that have looked so long for a place to sit that they eventually just gave up and ate standing. That’s unacceptable.
And honestly, Bullet isn’t all that much better in rush times. There have been times where I haven’t been able to navigate through Bullet at all. People have had to push and twist and shove their way through just to get a salad. And that’s after five minutes of waiting to try and let the crowd clear. I’ve seen times in Bullet where the lines are so backed up that they start hopelessly intermixing. People try to keep track of who is in what line and sometimes it’s impossible. I’ve waited 10 minutes in what I thought was the burger line, but was actually the pizza line.
And this isn’t a rare occurrence in either Servo or Bullet. This is a near daily occurrence. This year marks the most first-years we’ve ever had on campus, and it shows. The Servo line often, not rarely, but often extends into the street with both registers being open.
This has been a long time coming. It’s increased over the years. Slowly, gradually, we have reached the point where we just need more space to eat. What we have is not enough.
There are a couple solutions I can see to this problem, the first and most obvious of which is to open up Specialty Dining for use by the general student population. I know that idea is going to get a lot of flack from those who enjoy its privacy, but this is a serious issue. We are losing the ability to function at mealtimes. The well-oiled machine of going in, getting your food, sitting down, eating and leaving has broken down. Desperate times call for desperate measures and this is not the most desperate of them.
In terms of Bullet, there needs to be some revision of space. I don’t particularly think that many people use Ike’s. There was a time when Ike’s was quite a busy little corner of the CUB, as it housed the pizza and delicious salads. Now, I hardly ever see a line around there or people coming down from it. It’s wasted space at this point. When it still served pizza, it diverted a lot of the rush and traffic that now clogs up Bullet. Now, it’s only a pitstop for precious few people.
If Ike’s cannot be changed into something more useful, then perhaps an expansion of Bullet is in order. It’s just too crowded a space at this point. The pizza ovens and the grill clash with one another and give it an extraordinarily cramped feeling. Perhaps lines or ques could be used to show where the pizza line is and the grill line is or the space rearranged somehow to feel less claustrophobic.
Regardless of whether the suggestions I have said here are feasible or not, something needs to be done. Because this school is only going to get bigger and bigger and bigger. We can’t help it that people love it here. But we can help it that people can feel comfortable, get their food easily and find a place to sit.
Honestly, we can’t find places to sit sometimes. People are getting violent about spot-saving. This isn’t hyperbole; I’ve seen people sprint and shove each other out of the way to get to open booths and tables. That isn’t the environment we want to foster. It’s not the one we need.
The Servo Outside idea is great. Perhaps an expansion to full time on that could work. Grilling outside also helped relieve some tension. Again, I’m not on a planning committee, so I don’t know what can and can’t be done. I just know something must be done.
So, to whoever is in charge of these decisions: we need more space. We need fewer backups and more order. We need an easier time finding tables. We need to be able to easily get this College’s delicious eats.
Sincerely, the student body.