Staff Editorial: Dining hall accessibility inconveniences students

Have you ever been in Commons Dining Hall at 3 pm when there is no food? Have you ever been in Russell Sage Dining Hall at 3 pm when there is even less food. Have you ever been denied entry to a dining hall simply because of the location of your residence? If you have a meal plan along with a full course load, you have probably experienced the need for food at an awkward time, but if you have class from 8 am to 2 pm you will most likely be hard-pressed to find sustenance at any on-campus dining hall.

Commons Dining Hall opens at 7:30 am, just late enough to be inconvenient for students slogging their way to their 8 am class, and closes at 7:30 pm, which is early enough to miss the late night study groupers. To help alleviate the hunger of famished students who miss the early Commons closing, late night dining was created. Also serving as a quick, economical way to get rid of the day’s leftovers, late night occupies the short window of 10:30 to 11:30 pm. Students wishing to gather foodstuffs during the 7-10 pm window must either purchase dinner at the Rensselaer Union or gather snacks from the residence vending machines.

Additionally, awkward restrictions exist for Russell Sage Dining Hall during the day. Most students looking for lunch at the common lunch time of 11 am to 2 pm are barred from the most convenient dining location. The small space limits the number of students who may eat in the building, so to alleviate pressures caused by the lunch time rush, the school only allows certain groups to eat there at that time.

All of these opening and closing times, as well as the rules placed on eating times, can be very frustrating, especially for freshmen and sophomores who are forced into dining plans. There needs to be a decent solution to the lack of food in the dining halls between the lunch and dinner hour. In addition, closing at 7:30 pm is unfortunate for the realities of college schedules, and the time should be pushed back to a more reasonable hour.

Students also need to make these problems known to Sodexo. Most of the dining halls have comment cards to write on, and Sodexo has historically been receptive to comments. If enough students voice their complaints regarding these issues, change is indeed possible.