East Quad residents demand improved dining hall hours

East Quad dining hall has been called upon to improve operating hours.

East Quad dining hall has been called upon to improve operating hours. Buy this photo
Matt Vailliencourt/Daily

 

Wednesday, November 8, 2017 - 4:50pm

Five years ago, East Quad Residence Hall underwent comprehensive renovations, sporting new study spaces, improved restrooms and a new 430-person dining hall.

Since that renovation, the East Quad dining hall has been a quick stop for meals for students around campus due to its convenient location and sustainable meals, as well as a huge improvement for students in the University of Michigan’s Residential College, a living-learning community housed in East Quad.

Recently, however, concerns have been raised to East Quad Hall Council regarding the size of the dorm. With nearly 900 students, LSA freshman Jaylen Bradley, president of the Quad council, says the expansiveness of East Quad has led to some issues the council hopes to address, especially with regard to the dining hall. 

The council, made up of 15 students and two faculty advisers, has been drafting a petition for the past month to submit to MDining about the hours.

“I was approached by several of our residents saying how the hours were inconvenient,” Bradley said.

East Quad’s dining hall is open for breakfast and lunch from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.; for dinner from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.; and on the weekends, 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. for breakfast and lunch, and again 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. for dinner. The council is petitioning for longer lunches, longer dinners and earlier breakfast on the weekends to accommodate the growing demands from residents.

“I need everyone to understand that this is an ongoing process. It takes time to make sure everything is aligned,” Bradley said. “Although our residents feel like we’re not doing anything, we are and it’s just behind the scenes.”

LSA sophomore Sage Renstrom-Richards has lived in East Quad for the past two years. 

“I go to the dining hall at least three times a day,” Renstrom-Richards said. “I usually get second dinner because I know that they have a very limited window to get dinner.”

Like many students, late nights are often a part of the collegiate experience, and with late nights comes the desire for late-night snacks.

“At MSU, they have ‘late-night something,’ where the dining hall is open and only has limited options. It’s good because it recognizes the fact that you don’t stop getting hungry after 8 p.m.” Renstrom-Richards said.

The late opening times for the dining halls on the weekends can also be inconvenient for students, she said.

“I also work on weekends and a lot of my work starts at 10, so I literally cannot eat breakfast,” Renstrom-Richards said. “It really disadvantages people who need to work, which is a problem.”

The council has been working with David Adler, dining hall manager for East Quad, to extend the hours. According to Bradley, Adler told the council it would need most of its residents to sign the petition for it to be considered by MDining. Bradley also said Adler informed the council it will need two-thirds of residents to sign the petition. Adler could not be reached for comment. 

Keith Soster, the director of student engagement for MDining, however, said he had not heard about the council’s request for extended hours or impending petition. 

“We would consider anything, as long as the students are willing to come in and talk to us,” Soster said. “I didn’t know anything about this petition, but regardless, at some point we are going to have to sit down and talk about what their desires are versus what we’ve analyzed and what can work.”

MDining tracks student swipes to analyze foot traffic at certain times of day and uses that information to determine when the dining halls will be open.

“We’re always looking at hours,” Soster said. “Hours, (and) menus are constantly being analyzed to see what improvements we can do.”

The council is planning to vote on the petition next week and hopes to have it ready for students to sign before Thanksgiving.

“Food is for everybody,” Bradley said. “We don’t want the dining hall to be the con of being at East Quad.”

Correction appended: A previous version of this article misidentified the audience of the petition