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Cafeteria Conundrums: New Semester, New Problems

Second semester is well underway here at Emmanuel College and with the new semester came a “new” campus.

The construction on the Administration building is complete, so students and staff can now able to utilize the building to its full extent, disheveled offices are now back to their natural locations and the new elevator makes getting around a lot easier.

The student-raved Muddy River Café is now open and better than ever. The long-awaited return of this café meant that lines would be shorter in both the Atrium Cafe and the Yawkey Student Dining Room. However, the opening of the Muddy River Café has caused some changes to occur in the main dining hall and Atrium Café.

The operating hours of the Muddy River Café are 8am-6pm on Monday thru Thursday,  8am-2pm on Friday and is closed on both Saturday and Sunday. The Atrium, which used to be open during the day, is now only open 6pm-10pm. The Yawkey Student Dining Room now stops serving dinner at 7:30pm from Monday to  Friday, while weekend hours remain the same.

With the new hours comes new pricing options as the Atrium no longer accepts meal swipes and the Muddy River Café does not have a “grab and go” sandwich station like the Atrium did. Not only are the hours inconvenient to most students, there is one more aspect to this cafeteria conundrum.

As of Tuesday, February 19, students are no longer allowed to take the ceramic dining room plates into the Atrium to eat. If students want to eat in the Atrium, they must use plastic plates, cups, and cutlery and they are not allowed back into the main dining hall for seconds, dessert or refills. There is no more “re-admittance” into the Yawkey Student Dining Room.

The Yawkey Student Dining Room was one of the few areas that did not receive any construction work over the past year, meaning the amount of seating available in the dining hall has not changed. Every student knows that during prime lunch and dinner rushes, seating is at a premium and that was when the upper JYC and Atrium were viable seating options.

According to one of the managers of Bon Appetit, the reasoning behind the new rule is that, since the Muddy River Café is open, there shouldn’t be a need for the extra seating. I also suspect that the new rule is following up on the complaints from staff and students that the abandoned plates of Atrium diners have led to a gross infestation of mice.

However, the flaw with this reasoning is that the Muddy River Café closes at 6pm. Many students have class, practices, and work that go until or well past 6pm. This makes the dining hall the only viable option but because of the limited hours at the Muddy River, there are always lines in the Yawkey Student Dining Room from 6pm until close.

This new rule will cause noticeable conflicts on Tuesdays and Thursdays during the school-wide activities period. With no classes for any student from 12:15-1:30, a large portion of the student body all try to get food at the same time. Lines in the Muddy River Café are long. The “newness” of the café has not yet worn off and students still flock there by the dozens and wait in line for (delicious) yet time consuming Panini’s and entrees. Seating is going to be a grave issue in the dining hall especially over the next couple weeks as the student body learns about this new rule.

It seems as if there is a touch of favoritism happening with this new rule. There is a class section that goes from 10:50-12:05 on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The students that are out of class at 12:05 are going to be at a disadvantage to those that were not in class until 12:05. There may not be a seat for them inside the dining hall, and if that’s the case, then they will be forced to transfer their food to a plastic plate, and only be “allowed” to eat what is on their plate and not come back in for dessert or refills. However, they will still pay the same price as the “lucky” students that were able to secure a seat in the Yawkey Student Dining Room.

It will definitely be interesting to see how this situation unfolds and how students perceive it as the week goes on.

Posted by on February 19, 2013. Filed under Around Campus. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

2 Responses to Cafeteria Conundrums: New Semester, New Problems

  1. Jordan Cooper

    February 19, 2013 at 11:15 pm

    In defense of the dining hall, students treat it as their pantry. Plates are not only left in the atrium (upper and lower), but in the residence halls, in the trash, and even in the streets! Silverware and plates for 2000+ students is not cheap– to have them thrown out, broken, and left to sit piled in residence halls on sinks and in hallways with rotting food shows the amount of privilege the student body has regarding the dining hall. Despite popular belief, we do not “pay 40,000 dollars a year” to eat here. If we pay, on average, 8 dollars a meal and eat all 15 a week for the 8 months we are here, the most we are paying is 4000 dollars a year. Compared to most dining halls, we have extremely diverse and well prepared options for foods– that money isn’t going to waste.

    The author may find it helpful to know that prior to construction/the closing of the muddy river, these were the hours of the cafeteria. The REAL problem with space is the acceptance of consistently larger classes without having the infrastructure to house and feed them. It is no fault of the the dining service.

    Consider this on the other hand: When you enter the dining hall, how likely are you to fill in the gaps between groups of people sitting at tables? How comfortable are you sitting with someone you don’t know? There is space– we just aren’t willing to break down these walls.

    I do not see how any favoritism could come into play here. Ultimately, the “new” rule is a reinforcement of the policy they already have in place. I have worked at the dining hall for the past 2 and a half years, and have seen what students can do to the hall. It is no mystery as to why the rules are being more strictly enforced. The lack of respect for the hall boils over into a lack of respect for our peers– we all have to share this space.

    Consider this anecdote:

    On the weekend of the recent snowstorm, “Nemo”, the managers, two chefs, and a few student workers tirelessly prepared meals for the student body– despite the fact that everyone else that typically runs the dining hall at “full power”, that includes the ability to wash the dishes in the back that pile up by the second, were sent home ahead of the storm.

    My recommendation to students is to take into consideration that our campus cannot physically hold the student body effectively, to plan their meals more definitively, and to communicate their needs in a respectful and constructive manner to those that have a direct impact on the dining hall. Contact any of the managers, speak to them in person, they are always around. They actually listen to what we have to say.

  2. Matthew Lupulio

    February 19, 2013 at 11:39 pm

    “Our main dining facility–Marian Hall–located in the Jean Yawkey Center, offers an all-you-can-eat buffet dining style with a wide assortment of foods rotating on a daily basis.”

    Forcing students to only be allowed to have one container of food kind of eliminates the “all-you-can-eat” aspect that the school prides itself on.
    I went in the cafeteria tonight with two friends and there was literally no room to sit, and none of us have problems sitting in between others– there was just no room. So, we sat in the atrium and then got lectures when we tried to go back into the dining hall to refill our drinks and get some chips. It wasn’t our fault that the dining hall was so full and that there was nowhere but the atrium to sit, but it still impacted our dining experience.

    If I’m paying– no matter what the price– for an “all-you-can-eat” experience, it should be exactly that, not having someone give me a plastic container and saying “that’s all you get, bye.” Use plastic plates/containers/whatever if losing the ceramics is too expensive, I don’t really care what I’m eating off of; don’t limit the food options I’m supposed to have just because of the college’s poor spatial accommodations.