Every college student has been there—you squint and blink at the textbook in front of you, trying desperately to focus. Perhaps filling the void in your stomach with orange chicken will help stave off the pangs of anxiety for your exam in the morning. As you trek across campus, the promise of Panda Express putting an extra spring in your step, your dream of a late-night meal at Jones Dining Hall comes crashing down when you glance at your watch—it’s 3 a.m. No dining halls are open.
The crushing realization that an after-dark study snack will consist of Red Bull and Pop Tarts rather than a more filling meal at a dining hall is a feeling every Texas State student has likely experienced at least once. Thus, there is a need and demand for at least one 24-hour or late-night dining location on campus.
College students are notorious for their ability to put away the groceries, no matter the time or location. In light of this, it would be worthwhile for the university to consider providing its students with a place on campus for them to eat during these hours.
Being able to feed oneself when on campus at night, whether students live in a dorm or are studying late at Alkek Library, should not be a concern. Currently, Jones Dining Hall is the closest thing Texas State has to an on-campus option for students looking for a late-night meal. Jones is available seven days a week and is typically open until 12 a.m.
Students who live or work in other areas on campus will be hard-pressed to find an on-campus dining option late at night. Commons Dining Hall closes at 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and at 7:30 during the weekend. Harris Dining Hall, located in west campus, has similar hours to Commons. The Den is closed on weekends, and its food vendors are all closed by 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday and by 2 p.m. on Friday.
The Lair, located in the LBJ Student Center, is home to two of the most popular dining locations on campus, Starbucks and Chick-fil-A. It is also the closest dining location to students studying at Alkek. However, Chick-fil-A and Starbucks are only open until 12 a.m. Monday through Wednesday, and all vendors are closed by 10 p.m. on Thursday. Chick-fil-A closes even sooner at 5 p.m. on Fridays, and The Lair is completely closed on weekends.
Students who live in dorms or are otherwise on campus late at night should not have to leave Texas State in order to eat if they find themselves hungry. Those who live in dorms are already forced to purchase pricy meal plans, and should be able to spend them late at night should they wish. Additionally, students who are studying at Alkek should be able to take a study break to eat at a dining hall rather than resort to scrounging quarters together for a trip to a vending machine.
Perhaps one of the most important advantages of extending dining hall hours does not even have to do with food; it is a matter of ensuring the safety of students. Texas State officials should consider that providing students with one more place on campus to visit after dark would make for a safer community. Alkek is a great resource for students who need a place to study, but it normally closes at 3 a.m. A dining hall with extended hours could serve as another option for students who do not prefer to wander off campus late at night.
Some administrators may object to extending dining hall hours, as it would require staff to work longer hours or create a need to hire additional employees. However, the positions could easily be filled by students looking for work-study jobs or those who do not have time to work during the day because of their class schedules.
The lack of late-night dining options at Texas State is both inconvenient and a safety concern that is more serious than it appears. University administrators should consider extending the hours of at least one dining hall on campus. The editorial board believes officials would then recognize the demand for this type of facility, which would surely be beneficial for all parties involved.