Campus center dining discussed

Nora G. Hertel

As plans for the new campus center continue, the Campus Center Planning Committee is gathering student opinions about the facility’s various features.
On Feb. 23, Peter Bennett and Nathan Litt, the student representatives of the committee, and dining services director Pat Niles conducted an input session regarding dining services in the new campus center. A small group of interested students attended to give their input.
The planning committee is making strides to include general student sentiment. They say they want to confirm student opinion about food stations, usability and aesthetics to make the facilities not only functional but pleasing to students. According to Bennett, student responses at the meeting reinforced the committee’s ideas.
Food stations in the new dining room will most likely include comfort food, ethnic options, pizza, a grill, a deli, a cereal bar and a salad bar. In the forum, students discussed what should be readily accessible beyond the service lines. They agreed with the committee that beverages and desserts should be readily available in the actual dining space, outside the other lines.
Students also gave their opinions about the dcor and general aesthetic of the dining room. The group discussed seating styles, including booths and table shapes.
The students present expressed an appreciation for the seating in the existing Downer Commons facility because, as Bennett stated, the seating is free-form; in Downer, students are free to rearrange tables and chairs to suit their needs.
The group agreed that the new dining room should have large windows overlooking the river, allowing for much natural light. It also seems that most students want wood floors in the new dining room.
The forum also covered the utility of the dining space, specifically in regard to small meeting rooms. The plans for the new campus center allow for small meeting rooms adjacent to the large dining room. These rooms are equivalent to dining rooms D, E and F in Downer.
The committee sought student opinion on the capacities of these rooms and their availability between meals. Some food services may be available between meals with limited options and a lowered cost. If the dining services are extended, then the meeting spaces will also be available for extended hours.
Bennett elaborated on a few additional issues in a Lawrentian interview Monday. With the completion of the new campus center, all dining services will be centralized in one building. The main dining area will most likely be on the lowest level of the building, two floors below the main entrance.
Planners say this floor is ideal for the dining room because it will most likely close for periods of the day and night. Students at the forum agreed that the lowest floor was appropriate.
On the floors above the main cafeteria, there will be a caf that Bennett said will resemble artisan bakery-cafs like Panera Bread. There will also be a campus store that will sell some food items.