For those of us living on campus this spring, there are many new aspects to life at Arcadia. Most classes are still online, so we are attending class in our dorms; access to facilities like the library and fitness center is restricted and tightly monitored; and opportunities to meet other students face-to-face are more difficult to come by. And with only 350 students on campus, dining options and the nature of mealtimes have also changed.
Students are likely familiar with the normal campus dining options, like the Dining Hall and the Chat. This semester, however, the Dining Hall is not open, and the Chat is operating under limited hours. After an initial change in hours following the first week of the semester, The Chat is open throughout most of the day and the new Global Cafe in Oak Summit apartments is open in the evenings.
The dining experience has also altered, as social distancing measures are vital to maintain since students must take off their masks to eat. In the Chat, we can still eat at tables, but they are distanced at least six feet from each other with only two chairs at each table. The result is a limit to the number of diners in The Chat at one time is limited. However, with fewer students on campus, we can maintain a distance in the Chat or Global Cafe somewhat easily, and most likely not worry about finding a seat during busy times.
Since this is my first semester on campus, I couldn’t compare the dining experience from before, but I have heard a few older students talking about the differences from the previous years. Even though the Dining Hall is closed, most students usually prefer the other two options anyway. Plus, the Global Cafe now has Starbucks!
Personally, I like to know that the school is taking precautions to protect students, even if it does result in some small annoyances, like not sitting with multiple friends or having to take the time to wipe around the table before digging into my food. Respecting all of the University’s COVID rules is not difficult when I know how lucky I am to even be on campus, and I’m sure other students feel similarly.
Even with these changes, students still have the opportunity to socialize and enjoy their mealtimes in the dining areas. Any opportunity to get out of our dorms and see other people is something that students are appreciating. At this point, COVID-19 has been in our lives for nearly a year, so we will take any slice of pre-pandemic normalcy that we can get.