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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Holiday dining closures unnecessary

Published: October 14, 2011
Section: Editorials

Brandeis holiday schedules have become part of the fabric of the university we all love and attend. Students especially love the days off regardless of whether they are celebrating them as Jewish holidays or simply taking a much-needed break from classes. The dining schedules that accompany them, however, are an example of the very worst of Brandeis.

On Thursday, the first day of Sukkot, Einsteins closed at midnight instead of its regular 2 a.m. Ostensibly this was because it was a holiday—never mind that the holiday, with its famous sukkahs at mealtimes, has nothing to do with the late-night hours of a coffee shop. Upper Usdan was closed for late breakfast, lunch and all afternoon, opening only for dinner. But of course the vast majority of students did not eat any of their food before dinner inside the sukkah and would have filled the main dining halls in Usdan the same as any other day.

And the V-store and the Stein were closed entirely. What about Sukkot and what about a day off of school would mean students would be in the Village or Ridgewood area less often to go to the V-store? And if anything, having a day off of school would make students more free to go out to the Stein Thursday night!

If anything, Columbus Day, which was this past Monday, would be a more reasonable day to restrict the operating hours of our eateries. Of course it is expected and reasonable that classes should be canceled on Thursday, not Monday, when there is a Jewish holiday. But for dining purposes, the reverse can be true. Not only is it true that most dining workers at the V-store, Usdan and the Stein would probably much rather take off on Columbus Day, a collective holiday they can spend with family and friends, than Sukkot. But the numbers drawn away from those locations because of Sukkot are not enough to be worth their closing.

And the arbitrary dining hours don’t just include holidays, with their exaggerated sense of necessity for the accommodation of observers.

Einsteins closes ridiculously early on Friday, as if students begin their Friday night activities the minute classes end. Saturday hours are very few and don’t include much of the afternoons. Students are usually studying Sundays when they’d like the student center coffee shop to be open—before 5 p.m. If Brandeis can’t have the dining services open for more hours, they should reallocate hours to some of these times.

And the closings of other locations beside Einsteins—Lower Usdan, the Stein or the V-store—cannot even be justified. No Jewish holiday requires only one part of Usdan to be open at the expense of another and few holidays would ever affect the numbers of students at the Stein or the V-store to any substantial level.

The fact remains that class cancelations are welcome and even necessary to respect both Brandeis’ heritage and the large Jewish community on campus. But the economics of food sales and the logic of customer support dictate a different attitude toward the dining halls. Just as Sukkot does not “redirect” nearly enough traffic to justify closing part of Usdan, the Stein and the V-store Thursday night, the number of students drawn away by most class holidays don’t merit a complete lack of options in student dining, of which Thursday night was just the latest example.