When the Campus Dining Advisory Board (CDAB) meets with administrators next week to discuss the modification of the late night dining program, one proposal on the table has the potential to cook up a storm. Having late night dining in the residential dining halls instead of Hutch Commons could go a long way to meet a longstanding student need for snacking after hours. Though unsuccessful attempts have been tested over the past year, we think this new idea deserves a chance.
Admittedly, this plan could very well end up a failure. As the current late-night effort (which failed to reach a quarter of its needed attendance) has shown, students won’t have an appetite if the location and menu are not right. However, the CDAB should be commended and encouraged for its commitment to providing a service that has intense demand among the student body.
The new idea to offer late night dining in the dining halls tackles the biggest problem with the current plan: its location. Hutch Commons may be nearby for dinner or lunch when students are on the quad, but save for a few fraternities and the Reg, it isn’t anywhere near where students are late at night. Offering late-night dining at the dining halls, which are adjacent to the biggest dorms on campus, would be a huge step towards solving this problem. Students returning home from a study session in Harper, for instance, would be much more likely to stop by the South Campus dining hall on their way back to their rooms. Pierce students who want a midnight snack would be more likely to walk the few feet downstairs than hike out to Hutch.
Another consideration for late-night dining is how late it should stay open. Presently, Midway Market and Bart Mart remain the only on-campus options left after midnight. While midnight may seem late to some, for many partygoers and night owls, it’s relatively early. It would be best for the University to consider keeping late night dining open until Bart Mart and Midway Market’s 3 a.m. closing time.
Taking these factors into account, student input on menus and hours should be a prerequisite if CDAB implements late-night dining hall programs. Such an effort could ensure the attendance needed to procure sustained funding and avoid a repeat of Hutch’s lackluster turnout. No matter the results, though, it will still only be a small step to resolving Hyde Park’s underlying late night dining problem.
For one, the ideas on the table would not address late night dining off campus, where stores close notoriously early. It also might not be a financial success. But the CDAB deserves credit for looking at ways to quench this student demand instead of quitting after unsuccessful initiatives. By trying out these ideas for late night dining near the dorms, they would be making a good bet on student satisfaction.
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