Renovations: Yay or Nay?


Students enjoy the new and improved John and Mary Metz Dining Hall featuring new chairs, tables, lights, flooring and painting.

Joy Mack, Reporter

Students have mixed opinions about renovations to the cafeteria in Banks, even though the design was inspired by student input.

Students think the dining hall renovations are a major upgrade from the cafeteria’s previous design, but there are still some minor details that aren’t meeting expectations.

The renovations included new flooring, light fixtures,  tables and chairs, and booth tables on the walls.

“It is certainly a step up from the Hogwarts-style banquet tables that we had before, that they had trouble keeping clean, and I feel like its certainly an improvement,” said sophomore English major Noah Ostrowski.

But Ostrowski noted that the dining chairs are difficult to push in and out.

“The chairs are the only problem, but other than that, I think its good,” said Ostrowski.

First year psychology and doctor of physical therapy major Hannah Humphrey finds the same problem with the maneuverability of the chairs.

“I think the chairs need to be easier to move, and I think they should have spent money on like food instead of renovations or getting new chairs and floors,” said Humphrey.

Sophomore biochemistry major Chabely Espinal said she loves the dining hall booths, but it’s sometimes hard to find an open table for her to share with her friends during meals.

“It feels that there are less seats in the dining hall than there were before,” said Espinal.

School officials are hearing both students’ praise and complaints.

“I think that change is always a challenge. In the beginning, one of the things we heard were that the chairs were hard to move. Whether they are or whether they aren’t, it really doesn’t have anything to do with what the renovations were intended to do in terms of brightening up that space. It’s just changed, right? I used to be able to push my chair in. Now I can’t, but they [Metz staffers] are looking for different kinds of things to put on the bottoms of  [chairs],” said Amy Lahart, Dean of Students.

Lahart said the renovations were planned with students’ comments and requests in mind. During the fall 2015 semester, school officials offered a survey to students to collect ideas on what they wanted to see in the dining hall. The survey enabled students to vote on the design option they preferred.

Lahart said she wants to make a university that students are proud to call theirs.

“Inspiration, for us, always comes from the students, you know, so [it was about] listening to the students talk about what is attractive and what isn’t attractive on our campus,” said Lahart.

Lahart said renovation plans began with a conversation with workers at Metz Culinary Management, the cafeteria food service provider.

“I mean it is a combination of a lot of different things. It’s just trying to make us as attractive as we possibly can to make sure the service is of the high quality that we want it to be and to continue to offering that to our students,” said Lahart.

Students not only eat their daily meals in the cafeteria but they also use the space for events.

Darcy Brodmerkel, Director of Student Activities, uses the cafeteria for first-year orientation meals and dances.

During orientation, the cafeteria is traditionally set up with huge, square tables that sit 16 people to help build relationships with first year students and orientation staff.

“We probably wont change it, at least not that much. We still will do the buffet and everything else. A lot of the tables on the right side when you walk in the café are obviously still long tables. We can put them together and make them into the big squares if need be, and then obviously, with the big round tables, we encourage conversation both with the leaders and as well as the parents and students meeting each other for the first time. We will see what’s going to be most appropriate,” said Brodmerkel.

Brodmerkel said the change was good for the students.

“I like the renovations. I think the students like the renovations. I see a lot of people use the two toppers. They like them. They like sitting with just their small group of friends, and students who prefer to sit in the larger group always go for those other big tables. So I think it gives students an opportunity for a choice,” said Brodmerkel.

The Admissions Department also uses the cafeteria space for prospective students during open house and campus tours. Admissions Assistant Director Rachel Oberg said she likes the new environment in the cafeteria.

“I think from an Admissions standpoint, it’s nice to see a university do something different in the dining hall rather than just your traditional tables. Plus it gives it a little bit more of a laid back atmosphere and again shows you something different that no other universities have,” she said.

Oberg said that the cafeteria is an asset for the Admissions team, but the new renovation could negatively impact workers during the annual Scholarship Luncheons for accepted students.

Oberg said cafeteria staffers will have more work as they change the tables to accommodate attendees.

“I kind of feel bad giving them more work because they will have to take the different sized tables out and bring in all the round tables.”