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The Dartmouth
April 14, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Dartmouth Dining opens locations, bringing more flexibility, long lines

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The Class of 1953 Commons opened for in-house dining on Sept. 25.

The quarantine period for students living on campus has come to an end, and many are glad to finally grab a meal inside Dartmouth’s dining locations. But from capacity limits to sanitation measures, even eating in a dining hall looks different this term. 

On Sept. 25, Dartmouth Dining reopened its locations — Class of 1953 Commons, Collis Cafe, Novack Cafe, Ramekin Cafe and Collis Market — for in-house dining, while the Courtyard Cafe will remain closed this fall. Based on recommendations from Dartmouth’s COVID-19 task force, face coverings are required to enter all Dartmouth Dining locations, and dining rooms are regularly closed for sanitizing, according to Dartmouth Dining director Jon Plodzik.

Dartmouth Dining has also limited in-house capacity by encouraging students to make online reservations for in-house dining, spacing all tables six feet apart and requiring students to sit alone at smaller tables or distanced from other students at larger tables. Social distancing is also required in all waiting and queuing areas. Capacity and the flow of guests in the dining halls are carefully controlled by staggering student entrances into dining locations and outlining a one-way direction system through the facilities, Plodzik said.

“It does seem like [’53 Commons] is doing exactly what [it] need[s] to be doing in terms of safety,” said Phil Lindsay ’21, who is living on campus this term and has eaten at ’53 Commons since its reopening.

Dartmouth Dining staff members serve students food from behind plexiglass, but Vicky Escalona ’24 said that this protocol has not affected her ability to make connections with staff.

“The servers are really nice. And the people who swipe your card, they're really nice,” Escalona said. “It’s always a highlight of my day to say hello to them.”

Some on-campus students are also glad that the opening of dining locations across campus has given them added flexibility in their mealtimes and food choices. During the quarantine period, students had meals delivered to them for the first 48 hours and later were able to pick up meals at assigned times and locations.

“The first couple of days when we had to eat in our room, I actually thought the food was pretty good, but I think the variety could have been better.” Isabelle Cheney ’24 said.

Now, students have plenty to choose from at meal times.

“There [are] so many options now, like [’53 Commons] or Collis,” Escalona said. “At Collis, I've gotten stir fry; my friend likes their scrambled eggs that you customize, and [for dinner] they’re serving the pastas, too.”

However, some students report that there have been long wait times to get into dining locations.

“The lines are definitely long,” Lindsay said. “I’ve seen some outside [’53 Commons] that have snaked down [Massachusetts] Row.”

Plodzik noted that the reduced capacity in all locations does tend to create longer lines and recommended that students try to visit Dartmouth Dining locations during slower periods of the day if possible.

Meal plan options have also changed this fall. Rather than having a choice between a number of meal plans, all students living on campus have been automatically enrolled in the Ivy Flex plan, which allows students unlimited access to ’53 Commons and the ability to trade access at ’53 Commons for a fixed amount of DBA at Collis Cafe or Novack Cafe during any meal period. The plan also gives students $300 in DBA.

Plodzik said that the switch to the Ivy Flex plan was made “to ensure all on-campus students can access meals even if they become quarantined due to COVID.”

While unlimited swipe-style meal plans are typically required for first-term freshmen, some upperclassmen have expressed concerns about the change in dining plan offerings. The cost of the Ivy Flex plan is $2,220, making it more expensive than most dining plan options offered in past years.

“I know some people are frustrated that plans like [the 5 Weekly Plan] are gone, but it’s a casualty of the times,” Jake Maguire ’21 said. “I personally don’t mind it [the Ivy Flex plan], but I do know that there was a price increase.”

Maguire is a former member of The Dartmouth staff.