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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Dining location a positive step, more work to be done

Published: November 20, 2009
Section: Editorials

The Hoot applauds the Student Union for working with the administration to bring more dining options on campus. The time slots chosen for the new ‘Upstairs Café’ can certainly be out of control at the Usdan dining locations, and as such, this new café will help to alleviate overcrowding in Usdan.

While this represents an effective use of Union influence, the actual idea of opening yet another sandwich and grab-n’-go station in Usdan represents misguided priorities.

Instead, The Hoot suggests that the Union and administration consider the following changes:

1. Utilize current establishments more fully. The addition of another cash register at both Einstein Bros. Bagels and lower Usdan is a step in the right direction. Aramark should consider adding another cash register in upper Usdan and, more importantly, keeping these registers staffed at peak times. For instance, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., all four registers in lower Usdan should be staffed fully, something that does not currently happen on a regular basis.

2. Improve the appeal of the Sherman Dining Hall. At noon, students flock to Usdan, leading to long lines of up to 25 minutes. Sherman, on the other hand, never has long lines. The administration must realize that students are ‘voting’ to eat at Usdan over Sherman by choosing to wait in long lines in Usdan rather than utilizing the other dining hall fully. Some might claim that Sherman’s location in lower campus results in lower utilization during class hours; still, Einstein’s, which is also in lower campus, never fails to attract a crowd during lunch. If the quality, consistency and appeal of Sherman were improved, students would be less likely to overcrowd Usdan and more likely to choose other options.

3. Rework the schedule of classes. The first 15 minutes of every hour from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday are the most crowded times at the dining halls. These times on Tuesdays and Fridays are not as crowded, however, because the schedule on Tuesday and Friday is less crammed with classes. While the university certainly cannot change the time when students want to eat, it can schedule fewer classes on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday between these hours of 11 a.m. and 3 p.m, thus reducing the number of students who will want to rush directly from class to the dining halls. Classes should be more spread out over the course of the day, utilizing the afternoon hours from 2 to 6 p.m. to a greater extent.

4. Add more specialty foods. While it is too late to change the proposal for the ‘Upstairs Café,’ the new dining location proposed for the Mandel Center should not be another sandwich station. Usdan has the P.O.D., Quiznos, Split Personalities, and Montague’s Deli, all of which amount to more than enough sandwich stations. Let’s think of other alternatives, like a smoothie station, Chinese food station, ice cream station, breakfast foods station or another hot Kosher foods station.

Overall, The Hoot acknowledges the large step forward this new dining location represents. Indeed, this news marks a major milestone for the state of Union-administration relations. Still, the idea that this temporary location will alleviate overcrowding may not be the most appropriate alternative. Hopefully, discussion will ensue to determine the future of dining at Brandeis, with this major milestone as a first step.