To the chagrin of Buckley and Shippee residents, Buckley Dining Hall has been in its new schedule for a semester and a half now. For those who do not often commute to the area, the dining hall in Buckley closes its doors every weekend, only reopening for the new week on Monday morning. Of course, Buckley does not have the best location or reputation, but the winter season in particular can be a challenge to nearby residents not wanting to leave the building. As a result, many have and continue to clamor for any alternative solution to the current situation.
The Hall Association brought forth this hope. In a short email at the end of October, a survey was given out to Buckley and Shippee residents inquiring about when Buckley experienced peak activity. One would think that this information could be gathered from swipe records, but it was a kind gesture regardless. In fact, the next month, a follow-up survey was offered, this one specifically offering alternative schedules. In addition to the current hours, options included opening Buckley for the weekend partially or entirely at the expense of weekday lunches and/or dinners.
At the time, this survey was met with much excitement. Residents across the halls were curious as to what was to come for their local dining hall. In reality, it was always unlikely, even impossible, that such changes would be implemented before the year was up, but that did not stop the rumor mill from turning at full force. Hype was quickly built, only furthered by the brevity and vagueness of the message sent out. It felt like the interests of the students were being put first.
Just over four months have passed since the last correspondence on the subject. No survey result was ever released, no long-term plan of action was ever discussed and no changes were ever made to the Buckley Dining Hall schedule. While the pain has mostly faded, the weekend rains and winds have ensured that the wound is still open. Often, there will be small gripes made towards the survey on the walk to South or Whitney dining halls on Saturday evenings. Many feel that the Hall Association, Buckley or UConn itself failed the community.
Ultimately, the problem lies in an (admittedly high) expectation not being met. Hope was dangled in front of the Buckley/Shippee community, and the residents there were expected to give up on their own. While students should not have gotten as excited as they did, there should have also been better communication on the part of the powers that be.
Ultimately, the University of Connecticut is a large institution with many people in competing command. As with any bureaucracy, things can be lost in translation and small acts can be left forgotten. Appeasing and serving the students, though, should always be the first priority.
Managing expectations and public opinion is an important part of any leadership role, and communication is key to avoiding missteps like the survey of Buckley Dining Hall.