Daily file photo by Noah Frick-Alofs
To compensate for continued construction on Elder dining hall, Northwestern Dining is serving residents weekday morning breakfasts and Wednesday night dinners in the building’s first floor lounge.
The dining hall was supposed to reopen this quarter after a 90-day renovation, but the project was delayed when the space was redesigned to better accommodate students with special diets and food allergies, Student Affairs staff said in a December email. Now, the dining hall is scheduled to reopen this summer.
Georgene Sardis, marketing director Compass Group North America, the University’s food provider, said the addition of weekday breakfasts was a decision made “based on student and resident staff feedback.”
However, some students feel like the University isn’t doing enough to meet their needs, especially since residents weren’t informed about the lack of a dining hall when they made their housing choices.
Weinberg sophomore Hannah Sudworth decided to move into Elder this year to live with a friend, but was disappointed when she realized she’d have to walk to Sargent Hall to eat.
“I will admit that one of the big draws for me was that there would be a dining hall,” she said. “I wouldn’t have to go anywhere to get food, especially in the freezing cold winter.”
The Residential Services website still lists Elder as a building with a dining hall, which Medill first-year Olivia Olander said was misleading.
Students also weren’t notified until December that the dining hall would be under construction for an additional two quarters, Olander added.
Olander said she was willing to walk to Sargent when she thought the renovation was going to be “a quarter-long deal,” but agreed with Sudworth that the idea of trekking to another dining hall in the middle of winter wasn’t ideal.
In addition, both students said, the offerings at Elder aren’t a sufficient substitute for a dining hall. Breakfast is only served from 7 to 9 a.m., a time frame Olander said is too short — and too early — for most Elder residents to take advantage of the opportunity.
“I don’t know what kind of feedback they got that led them to choosing 7 to 9 a.m.,” Olander said. “If they’re not going to open a dining hall I appreciate them giving us food, but I wish it were more convenient.”
Sudworth added that she thinks the food isn’t as high quality as it is at Sargent. Even in the cold, she said she would rather walk to another dining hall than eat a breakfast the University “could have put more effort” into, and that she was “considering going and buying some cereal.”
There also aren’t as many options for students with food restrictions, Sudworth said, a group the renovated dining hall will try to better serve. In the December email, Student Affairs staff wrote that Elder will be a place for “inclusive dining” and will cater to those who have food allergies or eat halal, kosher or vegetarian.
“The Elder situation is like putting a Band-Aid on a big gaping wound,” Sudworth said. “They created the problem, and they’re trying to fix it, but their solution is horrible.”
Elder dining hall to remain under construction after renovation plans change
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