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Dining hall disaster

John Cameron | Friday, November 12, 2010

It’s 12:35 p.m., Monday afternoon. South Quad is bustling, I’ve been in class since 8 a.m., and there’s nothing I want more than to get a quick lunch before heading back to Keough, probably for an excessively-long nap my roommates will judge me for taking. One thing stands between me and that lunch-nap combo: a massive crowd.

I guess then it’s more like two thousand things. After waiting two minutes to get swiped in, things are looking even worse: This truly is a feeding frenzy.

It seems like a million people are going in all directions, with no discernible flow or organization, while employees look flustered and push giant carts of food or dishes around, pausing occasionally to awkwardly wedge between students to drop off a pile of plates. Add to this the fact that more than half of the student body seems to get extremely confused with the moving and stopping process once they step inside, and it adds up to a frustrating mess. Don’t even get me started on the corner between the vegetables and grill.

What seems like a full 20 minutes later (minutes of napping I’ll never get back), I walk into the dining area and do the usual pause, look around … look around … look around … “There they are.” I sit down, probably sweating a little at this point. My friends are at all different stages in the dining process: One has just started eating, another is wrapping up, one just got fro-yo while another is paging through The Observer, (probably skipping the Inside Column) obviously ready to leave. The whole situation is less than ideal.

Sure, I could go downstairs and get grab-n-go, but some days seven points just doesn’t cut it. Maybe (but probably not) North Dining Hall will be less congested, but honestly, who in their right mind wants NDH food when there’s South?

I don’t know what the possible solutions are. Maybe it’s a change in layout to loosen up traffic, maybe an improvement to grab-n-go, maybe they can tell the freshmen there’s a dorm party on North Quad. What I do know is that there’s got to be something that can be done to make the dining hall rush hour a little less awful.

As it’s been 57 years since the last was built, maybe it’s time for the University to think about adding another dining hall location. While I appreciate the community-based experience of meeting up with people at a single location, there’s something to be said for the state school, “I get dinner on the first floor of my dorm” lifestyle. Notre Dame’s been expanding and building up anyway, maybe one of the next projects can be a new dining hall. It would probably benefit the stress level and sanity of the entire student body.

P.S. Freshmen — there’s a dorm party on North Quad tomorrow at 12:35 p.m.

The views expressed in the Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

Contact John Cameron at jcamero2@nd.edu