Lack of late-night dining options prompts concern for some students

Late club meetings and study sessions leave students with limited options for dinner at the Marshall Student Center. ORACLE PHOTO/LEDA ALVIM

After attending club meetings and events at the Marshall Student Center (MSC), alum Honor Waghorne rarely had to worry about where she would get dinner.

As a 2018 graduate, Waghorne experienced the later operating hours of the dining options in the MSC.

Since Chick-fil-A moved to the BullPen and Bento Sushi and Panera Bread were added in May 2019, dining locations in the MSC close at 7 or 8 p.m. at the latest on weekdays depending on the location, according to Marshall Student Center Director Matt Marshall.

The later hours Waghorne experienced prior to this construction and the pandemic allowed her to study later or be concerned about what she would eat after late club meetings. On Sundays, she said her sorority would have meetings in the MSC around 9 p.m. and she and her friends could get food beforehand.

“I didn’t have to go out of my way to pick up food. If I had to make an effort to come on campus, everything was in one place,” Waghorne said.

After a busy day of classes and club meetings, Waghorne explained she never had to worry about going somewhere else or paying a delivery fee to get food. In the years she lived on campus, she said she had plenty of food options available to her within walking distance.

“I never came home and was worried about not being able to get a late meal,” Waghorne said.

Current students do not share the same luxury, having to leave the MSC to find food or return home for the night in order to get dinner.

Sophomore health sciences major Haley Dittmar studies in the MSC in the evenings before club meetings. As someone who is motivated to work on homework and study later at night, Dittmar likes going there as she’s more focused, but is deterred by the lack of dining options available at that time.

“I would stay there later if I were able to grab food while I was studying. Since I don’t have a meal plan, I have to drive back to the apartment and make food,” Dittmar said.

Many students, including Dittmar, grab Chick-fil-A for dinner frequently because it is open later than the main food court in the MSC. Chick-fil-A and Bento Sushi close at 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, while the food court closes at 7 p.m.

Marwan Labban, sophomore health sciences major, will get Chick-fil-A or elect not to eat anything when the other dining locations are closed.

“I’m a commuter, I can’t just go to the Hub or JP. It’s inconvenient. So I just have to [continue to] study here or have to go home,” Labban said.

Other students, such as sophomore biology major Wedline Charles, plan when they are going to study at the MSC around their class schedule and the dining availability. Charles studies in the afternoon since most dining locations are not open in the morning, and appreciates the convenience of close dining locations to where she studies.

Joelle Copeland, sophomore biomedical engineering major, would also like more breakfast options available in the morning. Many Chick-fil-A locations off campus offer breakfast, which is not available at the MSC location.

Marshall said if he is made aware of student concerns regarding the food court hours or dining options in the MSC there would be a process to getting them addressed. His first step would be to reach out to Aramark to make them aware of the concerns. After this, he could call a meeting of the MSC Advisory Board to make them aware and discuss next steps.

Aramark would then look into the concern and brainstorm ideas to fix it or meet student expectations, according to Marshall. The advisory board would also get student feedback from the student committees to have a voice for the students, according to Marshall.

So far, Marshall said he has yet to receive any comments of concern about the restaurants’ operating hours.

Waghorne suggested USF Dining should poll students to see what dining options they would like to see on campus or what hours of operation they would like.

Some students, like Labban, would like to see cheaper food options with more variety. Others, such as Charles and Copeland, want healthier options.

Dittmar said some places off campus are open later or all night, which would be convenient to have on campus for those who study late.

“It’s a college campus,” Dittmar said. “It would be nice to have one place that you could be at all the time that has food.”