Dining Services opens North Dining Hall for quarantined students

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11/18/15 North Dining Hall by Jackson Haigis Photos of the dining hall at North Campus.

Dennis Pierce, executive director of dining services, spoke about transitioning the University of Connecticut’s North Dining Hall into a facility strictly for students in quarantine and the thoughts behind their choice. 

Pierce recognized that this decision may upset some students who were accustomed to going to North, but he feels that this is the right decision for the UConn community. He stressed that flexibility and empathy are key to understanding this decision. 

“I think it was the right decision. Unfortunately, some individuals are going to believe that they’re inconvenienced because now they can’t eat at North, but, you know, I think it’s the fluidness of this environment,” Pierce said. “People need to understand and to be empathetic to others because it could be them that they could be in quarantine.” 

Pierce said they recognized the need for a second dining hall for quarantined students when they reflected on the weather changes typical to Storrs. He said that having dining halls for quarantined students on opposite sides of campus made the most logistical sense.  

“People need to understand and to be empathetic to others because it could be them that they could be in quarantine.” 

“With the weather changing and daylight saving times meaning that it’s going to be very dark early, it was just logical that we have one [dining hall] on one side of campus and one on the other,” Pierce said. 

This dining situation, Pierce said, will be in place for the rest of the fall semester. Students in quarantine can choose to visit either dining hall as both will be available to them. 

“It was more about accessibility… This will be something permanent. In other words, we’ll run this model for the rest of the semester.” 

“With the weather changing and daylight saving times meaning that it’s going to be very dark early, it was just logical that we have one [dining hall] on one side of campus and one on the other,” Pierce said. 

This dining situation, Pierce said, will be in place for the rest of the fall semester. Students in quarantine can choose to visit either dining hall as both will be available to them. 

“Hours are the same, menus are the same, nothing significant has changed,” Pierce said. “It was more about accessibility… This will be something permanent. In other words, we’ll run this model for the rest of the semester.” 

Pierce recommended Northwest Dining Hall for students who are no longer able to eat at North. He said that dining services is confident that Northwest can handle the increased number of students. 

“We feel confident that Northwest can hold them [students who went to North] as far as getting them through without too much of an imposition,” Pierce said. 

When speaking about the possibility of having this same system in place in the spring, Pierce said that they will have to watch participation and the success of the program. He said that next semester’s plans are not currently set, but this semester will act as a test run for the future. 

“We have to look at the participation rates,” Pierce said. “This is a good test for us so that if it is successful and is conceivable, we would do it for next semester.” 

Pierce said that dining services made this decision based on feedback that they had heard from the student body. The decision was made using information Dining Services currently has both in feedback from students and knowledge about future weather patterns. 

“It really came down to listening to students. It was a decision that no one really point-blank asked us, we were not directed to do it, it was something that Dining Services looked at and said, ‘Here’s what we’re up against, here’s what’s going to happen with weather change and all that.’” 

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