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A North Dining Hall review

| Monday, April 10, 2017

One thing people love about Notre Dame is the tradition. When prospective students come to campus for tours, they are often told that there is a campus-wide debate between the two dining hall options on campus: North and South. In this never ending debate, I would always choose North. Both because it is obviously the superior dining hall and because I am stubborn. However, my staunch support of North was before the dining halls renovation. Before the renovation, I loved North Dining Hall: I could walk in every Tuesday and Thursday morning and stay there until my 11 a.m. class doing homework or answering emails. I could meet my friends there every Saturday for brunch and laugh and have a good time. More recently, I have been limiting my time spent in North Dining Hall and that is because it is so alien to me, and because the chairs are very uncomfortable.

The old North Dining Hall had a warm and nice atmosphere and it was always so bright and inviting. It was reminiscent of a pleasant retirement home, whereas the bright and harsh lights of the new dining hall remind me more of a hospital. One of my friends said that she sat on a panel with the designers of the new dining hall and their main concern was to make the dining hall as modern and contemporary as possible. Everyone was so excited about how different this new dining hall was going to be from what we already have on campus, and the designers talked about how they looked to other schools for inspiration.

My only question is why the designers did not look more to the students and to campus for inspiration. I love Notre Dame for being Notre Dame and that is why I chose to go here rather than another school. Walking into North the day the new half opened, I was surprised and saddened to see how much character it had lost. It truly feels out of place when you compare it to all of the other buildings on campus. This may be the direction designers want to move in, in the future, but I think that what is special about Notre Dame is that it is different from other places and I loved North Dining Hall the way it was.

Maybe my aversion to the dining hall is unfair and I need to give it more of a chance. Undoubtedly, I know that I will get used to it and come to enjoy it as much as I enjoyed the old North Dining Hall. However, there are three things that I know for sure: the gray chairs have butt indents that are really uncomfortable, the chairs that have armrests don’t slide across the floor so it is really hard to push them in and the food lines have no set direction to move in, so it is really a free for all in there. In short, the new North dining hall is modern and aesthetic but it doesn’t feel like home.

It is still better than South though.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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