Administrators should extend Jones Dining Hall operating hours to accommodate the recent closure of Commons over the weekend.
According to an Oct. 16 University Star article, Commons Dining Hall will no longer operate on weekends due to a decline in the number of students living on campus utilizing meal plans.
Although the closure is justified fiscally, it is extremely inconvenient for those who are required to pay for a full meal plan. It is understandable the university would choose to close Commons on weekends if the expenditures are greater than revenue brought in. At the same time, this closure may adversely affect students living on campus if other dining halls do not make adjustments.
The area surrounding Commons has one of the highest concentrations of dorms on campus. Many of the students living in these dorms rely on Commons as their main supply of food during the week. With the closure of Commons on weekends, Harris Dining Hall and Jones Food Court are the only open eating establishments on campus Saturday and Sunday. The two dining halls have similar food selections, but Harris’ location is inconvenient and far away for students living in the main dorm area. On the other hand, Jones is nearby, but offers insufficient hours and options.
It is unfair to give paying students only two options for campus-area eating on the weekends. These options are especially unfair since one establishment has a largely inconvenient location, and the other is limited in variety and hours. To compensate for the closing of Commons over the weekends, administrators should work to make the remaining dining halls more accessible.
Specifically, Jones is in need of extended operating hours to effectively serve students who want a meal in the early hours of the day.
While Jones has the latest evening closing hours compared to other campus dining halls, the available options become increasingly narrow as the night goes on. After 10 p.m., only four of the seven restaurants available remain open for business. Since students living in the residential core near Commons may increasingly choose Jones for weekend meals, this lack of available options is unfair to those required to buy a meal plan. It may cause overcrowding and long lines at night.
In addition, Jones does not open until noon on weekends, thus forcing on-campus students who want breakfast to walk all the way to Harris, which opens at 10 a.m. But what about students who wake up earlier than 10 a.m. on the weekend or want to get breakfast a little closer to their dorms? The university has a responsibility to provide students with meal plans a variety of accessible and convenient options at any reasonable hour.
The under-population of campus dorms this year is not directly the fault of individual students, so why should they be punished for it? Despite the decline in the dorm population, the university still has a responsibility to allow students to fully utilize the meal plans many are required to buy. The closure of Commons on weekends may be a necessary sacrifice. However, administrators must make sure remaining dining halls can compensate for the loss and provide students with a variety of convenient meals at any reasonable hour.
—Savannah Wingo is a mass communication sophomore.