Student Senate

Cooking up solutions for late-night dining

The Student Senate held a presentation to improve late-night dining last week. A motion was passed to make immediate changes, including collecting student feedback, creating a list of meals for dining staff to make, and investigating changes into Father's Marketplace and the U-Cook station in Commons Dining Hall.

Two years ago, late-night dining allowed students to receive $8.80 to spend on food at the Union in exchange for one meal swipe. Late-night dining at the Union stopped last year due to COVID-19, and with this year’s unlimited meal plan, exchanging a meal plan for $8.80 is no longer possible. Late-night dining now takes place in Commons from 8‒11 pm, where it has not been held since Fall 2018.

Facilities and Services Committee Chairperson Alexander Patterson ’23 and Hospitality Services Advisory Committee Chairperson Abigail Golden ’24 held a presentation concerning efforts to make a more satisfactory late-night dining experience and moved a motion afterward to ensure changes ensue. Director of Auxiliary, Parking, and Transportation Services Michael Ramella appeared for the presentation as a guest.

The presenters first introduced the current status of late-night dining. “We can see issues with food quality, some issues with variety,” Patterson started.

Afterward, the presenters spoke about what made late-night dining at the Union so successful. “It seemed to be more convenient for most students at the time,” Patterson claimed, “because they could, again, eat food, hang out, enjoy their time together. And, students really liked late-night food.” Patterson praised the Union environment, but described Commons as not "up to par.”

He went on to describe a plethora of issues with late-night dining at Commons. “There is a lack of food at certain hours,” he said, both early in the morning and late at night. He also noted the lack of food variety. “Eating the same food every night—it can lead to some pretty severe problems.”

Despite these concerns, Ramella countered the idea of bringing late night back to the Union. “We really feel that if you’re implementing your plan…you should have your all-you-care-to-eat options in Commons,” said Ramella, “we should be writing those options that you want with your plan at Commons.”

Afterward, the presenters offered three specific actions the Senate could take to help late-night dining: collect student feedback, assist Dining staff in preparing offerings, and create healthier options. To create healthier food options, Patterson suggested “allowing the U-Cook station to have more options.”

Golden finished the presentation by talking about how the Senate could interact with the staff at the dining halls. An idea included finding a way to hire more staff or pay them more. Patterson moved a motion after the presentation to improve late-night dining by collecting student feedback, creating a list of meals for dining staff, and investigating changes in U-Cook and Father’s Marketplace food. The motion passed 17-0-0.

The Senate holds open meetings every Tuesday at 8 pm in the Shelnutt Gallery.