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Stu­dents sit around a table in the dining hall, located in the Grewcock Student Union. | External Affairs

It’s a problem that every student in Hillsdale is all too aware of: there just isn’t enough space in the Knorr Dining Room. 

Stu­dents who prefer not to stand and wait in long lines every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at noon find that there is hardly any­where to sit when they come later in the hour. And weekdays at 11 a.m. aren’t much better.

A student with a busy schedule — who doesn’t have the time to arrive early enough to get near the front of the line — might not be as inclined to make the trip to the dining hall at all.

Sophomore Sebastian Pestritto con­siders himself one of those stu­dents.

“I’ve had so much going on this semester that coming to the dining hall for lunch just hasn’t seemed worth it,” said Pestritto, who said he has only had lunch at Knorr a couple of times this semester.

The college has been aware of this issue for some time, according to David Apthorpe, the general manager for Hillsdale’s food service, Bon Appetit. Back in the spring semester of 2018, the college, facing a con­sis­tently increasing student pop­u­lation, added the  Cafe Fresco grab-and-go service in Kendall Hall, which gives stu­dents the option to get a meal without having to go to the dining hall. 

But Apthorpe noted that the college con­siders it important for stu­dents to sit and have meals together, so the space issue in the dining hall is still some­thing that needs to be addressed.

“We’ve had dis­cus­sions with the registrar’s office about shifting around class schedules sometime down the road,” Apthorpe said.

To help solve the problem, the college could schedule more noon classes on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. The registrar’s class schedule for this semester lists 39 Monday, Wednesday, Friday classes at 11 a.m. and 35 at 1 p.m., but only nine at noon. Dis­trib­uting classes more evenly between the three hours would go a long way toward making Knorr less crowded at noon.

Shane Powers, Bon Appetit’s account support manager, says he has asked the provost’s office to move classes around to accom­modate the dining hall’s crowding, but has not been able to make much dif­ference.

“If they just changed a handful of classes, that’s all it would take,” he said. He added that while he would be happy to see Hillsdale con­struct an extension to Bon Appetit, adjusting class schedules would be the sim­plest solution.

If the college con­tinues to struggle to do this, though, another thing it could con­sider would be to let stu­dents into the dining hall a few minutes earlier. It cur­rently opens at 11 a.m. every weekday, which leads to a lot of stu­dents with classes at 10 a.m. crowding the dining hall at the top of the hour. Further, since many of those stu­dents might stick around for the whole hour, the dining hall doesn’t have much time to empty out before the next rush hits at noon.

If it opened at 10:45 a.m. or 10:50 a.m. instead, then stu­dents with classes at 10 a.m. on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, or 9:30 on Tuesday, Thursday, could get in and out in enough time that the noon rush wouldn’t over­crowd the dining hall like it cur­rently does.

The college should be able to do some­thing about this problem, whether it involves changing class schedules or tweaking the dining hall’s hours. And the sooner they decide what they’re going to do, the better. 

 

Mark Moreno is a junior studying math. He is a Col­legian free­lancer.