The University Board of Regents approved on Sept. 15 the building of a new dining center adjoining Mosher-Jordan Residence Hall, which would also service Stockwell, Alice Lloyd and Couzens residence halls on the Hill. In addition to the dining center, Mosher-Jordan will also undergo several internal renovations to replace outdated infrastructure and improve climate control. These initiatives are a good start, but the University needs to go further to make residential life better.
Overall, the new cafeteria will greatly improve the quality of residential dining. In addition to having a larger variety of foods to choose from during a single meal, students will be able to watch their food prepared in front of them. The cafeteria also brings with it the creation of several multipurpose areas. Old cafeterias will be converted into living and studying areas, and the new dining facility will include a second-floor emporium serving as a lounge/study area. The University has made a wise choice in creating these multipurpose areas and should expand on this idea. In recent years, the University has converted many floor lounges in residence halls into rooms to ameliorate the housing shortage caused by large incoming classes. This trend needs to be reversed, and more student-friendly areas should be created.
The additional construction required for this project should also be approached with sensitivity toward students. The Hill area has been perpetually under construction for the past several years. Students who are supposed to live in Mosher-Jordan will be moved to other areas for at least two years. These students, predominantly freshman, should be given help in adjusting to life under these conditions.
The new cafeteria will also be built close to Palmer Field, and the construction of the new dining facility should avoid any major disruptions. Updated and adequate facilities should not come at the expense of recreational space.
The administration should also apply its renovation plans for Mosher-Jordan to the rest of the University’s generally outdated residence halls. University dorms are old – the newest dorm, Bursley Residence Hall, was built almost 40 years ago. A concerted effort should be made to upgrade and modernize these older buildings – many dorm rooms don’t even have running water.
Along with renovating current dorms, more new dorms should be built. Finding housing in Ann Arbor should not be a problem for University students, and the University should be able to provide housing for all students who wish to live on campus. If a student wants to live in a residence hall for four years, he should be able to do so.
The new cafeteria project represents an encouraging step toward improving residential life, but it can’t be used as an excuse to avoid further progress.