Putnam Refectory closure leads to complimentary points for Hilltop residents

UConn's new STEM dorm is seen under construction in fall 2015. (Jackson Haigis/The Daily Campus)

The closure of Putnam Refectory for renovations will make dining a challenge for students with meal plans who live in Hilltop. To ease the inconvenience, Dining Services will add meal plan points to students' accounts free of charge, for all three plans (Ultimate, Value, Custom), according to executive director Dennis Pierce.

Dining services reached out to those students who will be affected to discuss what would be beneficial in the face of this inconvenience. They took students’ ideas and requests into account when making decisions, Pierce said.

Pierce said he received many emails with suggestions from students who were understanding of the issue and were helpful in coming up with suggestions. The idea for additional points came from Hilltop students’ suggestions.

“I got a bunch of emails, and students said, ‘We understand this needs to happen…but could you possibly add more points to our meal plans?’” Pierce said.

Due to the fact that students may need to utilize more facilities that take points, HuskyBucks or cash in place of standard meal plan swipes into Putnam, dining services agreed to add extra points to all three traditional meal plans.

The quantity of points has not yet been determined, but students should expect to hear more information the week before Spring Break as dining services continues to work with the One Card Office to implement a points procedure, Pierce said.

An official email, signed by Pierce, went out to the Hilltop community on Thursday, detailing the dining alternatives once Putnam shuts down for the remainder of the semester. 

“We have arrived at several dining options but also incorporated ideas that were sent to us from Hilltop residents,” the email stated. “We would like to thank those that took the time to contribute ideas.”

According to the email, the following list of dining options will serve the Hilltop community in place of the Putnam Refectory: 

1) A continental breakfast offered in a Hilltop lounge

2) A box meal program with a variety of options

3) Weekly on site tent BBQ (weather permitting)

4) Food for Thought university food truck, with ability to use a swipe for a specified menu selection

Despite these accommodations, it’s inevitable that the displacement of students from Putnam will increase traffic in other dining halls. Thus, full-time staff and student employees will be relocated to increase staffing at other dining units in order to meet the higher demands, Pierce said.

“What matters is students’ convenience and how we can make it convenient,” Pierce said. “As we go through (this process) we will be attentive to what people say.”

The University of Connecticut is currently continuing the construction of the Next Gen residence hall and the accompanying renovations of Putnam. In conjunction, the Putnam Refectory is undergoing a major facelift, causing the closure of the facility from after Spring Break until the end of the semester. 

The project has been in preparation for several years, and completion will result in a dramatic layout change to include two floors and new amenities such as a smoothie station. Though inconvenient for Hilltop residents, Putnam must be closed after spring break until the end of the semester in order to meet the fall 2016 semester completion deadline, according to an announcement on Dining Services website. 

“We’re not behind, it’s just the project’s scope is so big that they needed the extra six weeks,” Pierce said.

This same type of dining inconvenience has occurred in the past, when the Northwest and South dining halls received renovations. During those times, students were forced to find other dining halls to eat at, which proved to be inconvenient, Pierce said. 

“People had to go elsewhere for food and we learned from that,” Pierce said. 

Pierce said as Spring Break approaches, updates will follow Thursday’s email. Any students with questions, concerns or further suggestions regarding this situation are encouraged to use dining services’ website comment section at dining.uconn.edu/questions-and-comments/.


Molly Stadnicki is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at molly.stadnicki@uconn.edu. She tweets @molly_stadnicki.