The Zorn North Dining Commons, known as the DC on campus by students, is one of the three dining options on campus utilized daily. Though some of the other options are open later than the DC, students would enjoy having the hours of the DC extended.
First-year student Madison Constant said she is frustrated that the DC is not open later at night. “[It would be nice] for those who are on sports teams and have to literally rush to get to the DC and sometimes don’t make it in time. Also, for those of us who have back-to-back late night classes [and] get stuck with Hoot n’ Scoot every single night,” said Constant.
Constant said if the DC was open even one hour later than it is now, it would be helpful. She said this would prevent people with those late classes from having to have Hoot n’ Scoot all the time and would provide more variety such as, “Valley Vegan,” which she enjoys.
During lunch hours, Constant said she thinks the DC should allow students to take wraps and sandwiches on the go. She would also like to see the DC provide healthier options such as more fruits and vegetables.
First-year student Jocelynn Grabowski said if the DC were to extend their hours, they could consider not having a full menu available. “They could shut the grills off at a certain time and leave like one or two options open at a certain time so you can get a bowl of cereal or soup,” Grabowski said.
Dining Service’s General Manager Josef Quirinale said the DC hours are based on need and class, and standard meal times are taken into consideration.
The current hours of the DC are decided by the Dining Services liaison in Student Affairs, according to Quirinale. “We provide budgeted costs based on historical data and the number of students purchasing a meal plan. After that, any changes or additions have a financial impact. When requested, Dining Services provides an estimate of those costs, but does not make the ultimate decision,” Quirinale said.
The DC hours are also based off of a study done each semester based on traffic flow in the DC, according to Quirinale. He said, “We study 15 minute counts and determine how best to staff and the most desired hours of operation based on historical traffic patterns.
Quirinale said student requests are always heard, but the decision of the DC hours are based off of financial data, along with the need and student preference.
“Dining Services is charged with managing the student’s meal plan money and need to be fiscally responsible. Each hour the Dining Commons is open costs close to $500 in labor alone. Opening an extra half- hour each night would cost an additional $1,750 per week or $28,000 per semester. In order to justify financially, concessions would need to be made elsewhere in the program by either curtailing opening hours or finding cost savings in food or increasing the cost of the meal plan,” Quirinale said.
Junior William Poling said him and his friends typically get dinner in the DC around 6 p.m. “We usually stay after eating until 9 p.m. just chatting, but the thing that always bothers us is that the staff turns off the milk machines and soda fountains around 8 p.m., which is something we always find annoying.”
Poling continued, “I figure that the dining commons should keep running completely till 9, close at 9:30 and shut everything down at 10. This also lets students with late classes get something to eat at the dining commons instead of worrying about owl bucks or Hoot n’ Scoot swipes.”
Quirinale said the dining on campus is driven by the needs of students and the finances provided by the meal plan program. “In Dining Services, we always have an ear open to student requests and needs, which is why we have strong programs in several areas including vegan, gluten free options throughout and accommodations for those with food allergies. All a student needs to do is come forward and identify their need and we will work to accommodate,” Quirinale said.
He continued, “The decision to alter programs or hours [is] not ours, but our responsibility is to provide information based on financial implications and/or student preference based on our own historical data so campus-made decisions can be fact-based.”
Emma Hamilton can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org