Photo by Rachel Anderle.
JESSICA LEE | STAFF REPORTER | firstname.lastname@example.org
Walking into Atherton dining hall, there are long lines of students and a constant search for a seat, especially during lunch rush hour. In the back kitchens, it is difficult to navigate from cooking to serving areas. To walk from the bookstore to the Reilly Room, students go down the stairs and through C-Club, where there is little natural light.
Starting this summer, the dining will change.
Rich Michal, executive director of facilities, explained the master plan during an open forum last Thursday about construction on campus.
The back kitchens, he said, has to be updated first and foremost. Currently, it is difficult for the workers to navigate and the equipment is outdated.
The kitchens, both Atherton’s and part of C-Club’s, will be done this summer.
In summer 2018, Atherton, C-Club and ResCo dining will go through updates and construction.
“I don’t think students will come back and see anything visible after this summer, but the next summer, it should be ‘wow,’” Sally Click, dean of student services, said.
The new dining plan still has to be checked for its engineering and architecture feasibility, however, Click said it was in their every intention to move forward.
To address the flow of students, Atherton will expand into a two-floor cafeteria.
Michal said currently, there is a “horizontal and vertical circulation problem”, meaning it is difficult to get through one side of the building to another and from one floor to the next.
To connect the two floors of dining, there will be staircases. These staircases are different from the ones currently between dining and C-Club; they will strictly be inside the dining area and not lead outside. An elevator will reach all floors of Atherton.
In the new Atherton, there will be a designated walkway downstairs, connecting both sides of the building. The walkway will be separated from dining area by a glass barrier. This way, there will not be a constant stream of students interrupting dining and having to walk through the now C-Club.
Click said they receive constant feedback on C-Club’s lack of light, making it an unwelcoming area.
Lucas Norrington, a sophomore arts and administration major, said C-Club also has a distinct “funky smell.”
To address the lighting, there will be top to bottom windows, allowing natural light to come through on both floors of dining.
There will also be more seating. The downstairs computer lab may turn into dining seating as well, so combined with upstairs dining, this is about 820 seats.
Downstairs Atherton will be dining similar to the first floor. Retail, or C-Club, will no longer be in the basement of Atherton. It is moving to ResCo.
Right now, ResCo only serves lunch, and the dining area is closed off to the rest of the lobby, creating a confined and restrictive space.
The “Great Wall of ResCo” or the paneling separating the dining hall from the rest of the building will be torn down, Michals said, referring to the paneling around the dining area. It will open the whole lobby.
Click said if there were to be any area open 24/7, it would be the new ResCo area. The food portion would be closed off, but students would be welcomed to study. Capacity will also expand to an estimated 342 seats.
“We want to be thinking about technology and electricity, and being able to power up,” Click said. “At two in the morning, people could be working on a project there if they want to.”
In ResCo’s new retail area, students will be able to use Dawg Bucks, flex dollars, cash and credit like the current C-Club. It will still sell its market products, like chips, candy and ice cream. However, the current vendors, Papa John’s and Sandwich Shack, are most likely to change in the new ResCo.
Click said they still need to discuss what would make most sense to put down there.
“I would want students to be at the table to say, ‘These are the new points of service or the kinds of food we want to have,’” she said.
Senior Paige Haefer, president of the Student Government Association, said a survey will be released either by the end of this year or beginning of next year regarding students’ retail preferences.
The retail options will first be filtered through the SGA Senate, then those narrowed down four to five choices will go on the survey. The general results will be shared with dining services and student affairs, who will then make the decision based on the most popular result and financial logistics.
“They’re always really good at listening to what students want, so I assume, hopefully, they’ll push for the top options that was voted on,” Haefer said. “If that doesn’t work out, I’m sure they’ll go in order from there.”
Norrington said it is important for the students to have a say in their food.
“Especially when it gets to be a tense time in the semester, getting to go to lunch is a break from studying, and if there’s not anything you want to eat, I think that could really affect someone’s mood,” Norrington said.
Haley Huelsman, a first-year majoring in secondary English education, said she was disappointed when ResCo started to serve only lunch for the spring semester, but the new updates will bring more diversity in the food to serve more students.
Not only will there be new vendors, but Click said they will also better address special dietary needs such as lessening cross-contamination for allergies.
Huelsman said the gluten-free section is sometimes lacking and “not always appetizing,” but there has to be a demand for certain foods.
“I want variety, but I don’t want food to go to waste,” Huelsman said. “If I’m the only one eating that certain kind of food, I don’t think that’s reasonable.”
A good way to reach out is through the SGA Senate, Haefer said, or to even personally email her.
“We are the customer of the university,” Haefer said. “The university provides great opportunities for faculty and staff and the outer community, but ultimately, it’s here to give us an education and students should really be represented and have a say in the decision making. I think it’s really cool that Butler has always valued the student voice from my experience, but hopefully for many other people as well.”
Both phases are to be done only during the summers, as to not disrupt student life.
“We have the opportunity to say, ‘What are the priorities, what do we know is coming in the future, and how do we best plan for the next 10, 15 years,” Click said.