Magnolia dining hall hours should be rethought

Students living in Magnolia Hall next year will not have to walk far to visit a dining hall on campus — one will be located at the bottom of one of the Magnolia buildings.

However, the hours of the dining hall, which will mimic those of Argos’ Fresh Food Company, are poorly planned.

Argos is open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday through Sunday.

These hours make sense on the north side of campus, where students also have the option to eat at Andros’ Bulls Den Café, which stays open until 2 a.m.

But in Magnolia Hall, where most residents are freshmen who are required to have a meal plan, closing the dining hall at 7 p.m. or even 9 p.m. does not make sense.

Mandatory meal plan options for students in suite-style dorms cost $1,647.78 for the 2008-2009 school year — a price that left many students without extra funds to pay for outside meals from grocery stores or restaurants.

Magnolia residents who take night classes that end after the dining halls are closed would have nowhere to eat near their dorms if these hours are implemented.

Freshman residents acclimating to college are also known for staying up late — a stereotype that is enforced most nights at Andros, which is often busy until closing time.

Walking back and forth across campus to eat could pose a safety threat, especially for first-year students who do not know their way around campus. They may not be familiar with Safe Team’s services or know where to find safe, well-lit routes around campus.

Driving from one side of campus to the other on a weeknight is unrealistic because there is not much parking for residents, and many freshmen do not even bring cars to campus.

As a freshman with a required meal plan, I would end many of my nights without dinner if Argos were the only dining option. I often do not get out of work until 11 p.m. or later, and I would not feel safe walking back and forth across campus every night.

Even if the Magnolia convenience store is open later than the dining hall, this still would not provide students with the services or dining options that they might expect after signing a mandatory dining contract.

By purchasing a mandatory meal plan, students expect that their main source of nourishment will come from dining hall meals.

Students are also allotted a certain amount of Dining Dollars with each meal plan, which they can spend at campus locations such as convenience stores.  Students are not given enough of these dollars to rely on for frequent late-night meals. In addition, grabbing a quick, already-made meal is the easiest option.

Students’ safety should outweigh the cost of running the dining facilities for a few extra hours. Housing and dining administrators need to reconsider dining for students living on the south side of campus next semester and make sure they have safe, affordable access to food late at night.

Hannah Feig is a freshman majoring in engineering.