South Campus dining halls face crowds after Hinman closes for renovations


Hongrui He/The Daily Northwestern

Students line up to get food at one of the Foster-Walker Complex dining halls. Students reported overcrowding at Plex and Allison after Hinman and its dining hall closed for renovations.

Amy Li, Reporter

After 1835 Hinman closed for renovations and took its dining hall along with it, students have noticed overcrowding at Allison Hall and Foster-Walker Complex dining halls, especially during peak lunch and dinner hours.

Several students have reported longer lines and a shortage of seating. Several students said they have noticed more students at Plex during lunch.

“I think it’s the location of Plex,” Communication freshman Victoria Hahm said. “It’s right between North and South (Campus), and people usually schedule their lunch breaks for around 12 to 1.”

Jim Betsanes, unit marketing specialist for Northwestern Dining, said there are several alternatives available to students to avoid going to dining halls during rush hours.

Betsanes said students should take advantage of programs like “Choose to Reuse,” a waste reduction initiative that allows students to take out food from Elder Hall in reusable containers. He said this program, which costs $5 per year, allows students to dine at their own leisure.

However, Communication sophomore Rachel Fimbianti said it has been difficult for her to find a replacement for Hinman’s dining hall.

“On Monday, I have a gap between 1 and 2,” Fimbianti said. “Part of my problem is if I were to walk to Allison, I’d be wasting too much time to sit down just to barely have time to eat.”

Betsanes said Dining Dollars — which are accepted at all the dining locations outside of residential halls — could also be an alternative to eating at the crowded dining halls.

Fimbianti said she has resorted to eating at Norris University Center between classes to save time. However, Fimbianti said she has had to limit her trips to Norris and other dining spots, like Fran’s Cafe, because she budgets about 25 Dining Dollars per week.

The change isn’t just affecting students. Weekly faculty lunches held by Communications Residential College were also moved from Hinman to designated rooms in Allison.

CRC faculty chair Roger Boye said although the reserved rooms help maintain a sense of community within the college, Allison is still a further walk than Hinman.

“(The distance) might cut down on the number of people coming,” Boye said.

CRC held its first faculty lunch Thursday, which Boye said was “not too bad,” but he added that it was too soon to tell if the distance would affect future attendance.

However, Fimbianti, who also lives in CRC, said she feels the section in Allison is “not quite the same as it used to be.” Sharing the back room in Allison with other residential colleges forces CRC residents to move farther away from each other, she said.

Meanwhile, other students noted no serious inconveniences in at Plex dining halls.

“It’s really not that bad,” Weinberg freshman Peter Song said. “Just don’t go during those (busy lunch) hours.”

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