Does closing Johnson Dining Hall for weekend events have to be such an inconvenience?

(Photo by Breanna Hoffner)

By The Spartan Editorial Board,

With the first YCP open house of the semester taking place earlier this month, you might have noticed a change in the operating hours of the Johnson Dining Hall (JDH) on main campus. JDH is not closed per se, well at least not to those attending the open house. However, to students who pay roughly $2,500 for their meal plan a semester, it is.

There are many perks to living on Main Campus: being close to classes, having a short walk to campus buildings such as the library and bookstore, and getting several options of where to eat (Starbucks, JDH, Sparts Den, and Appell Cafe). So, what do you do when all of the eatery options above are closed?

Well, you’re forced to travel to the West Campus Dining Hall, find food elsewhere off-campus, or grin and bear it until the dining hall reopens at 3 p.m. Many may ask: “Well, don’t students have kitchens or an easy means of transportation to get to West Campus or an off-campus dining location?”. While that may be true for some, many of the students living on Main Campus are not able to keep their vehicle on Main Campus and would have to travel to West Campus for their vehicle anyway. Also, many of the living spaces on Main Campus do not feature a kitchen or kitchenette for students to cook their own meals.

Students who do not have a vehicle to travel easily, or a kitchen within their place of campus living, are the most inconvenienced. Those who live on North Campus and travel to Main Campus every day for food are affected as well. We have had several negative experiences with the closing of JDH, yet when expressing concern (OK, you can call it griping) the answer was “you were told you need to eat on West Campus today” and “it was communicated to you.”

Yes, it was communicated. For the recent closure of JDH on Feb. 5, it was posted on Instagram two days before the closure and on a sign in the dining hall. A mass email was not sent to the school. Plus, what about those who do not have an Instagram or do not follow the Dining Services account? As for the signage in the dining hall, it was at the check-in location, a location where many slide their card and walk by quickly.

Several times, students have had to walk to West Campus in order to eat for the day. Some were forced to walk in the middle of a snowstorm just to be able to eat breakfast. Last November, many had to bear the freezing sleet to get to West Campus. Yet upon arrival, most of the menu items were out. In that case, students are known to order GrubHub in order to eat rather than using the money they have already spent on the meal plan.

There are some solutions we can think of to resolve this problem that could be taken by York College of Pennsylvania in partnership with York College Dining Services (Chartwells).

1. Get a YCP shuttle running that can take students from Main Campus to West Campus, especially if there is inclement weather. This way, students who do not have a vehicle are able to get to the dining hall on West Campus. This shuttle would just have to run until JDH reopens around 3 o’clock

2. Open Sparts Den earlier in the day to make up for the closure of JDH. Unfortunately, as scheduled now, Sparts Den does not open until 4 p.m., which is a time JDH would be open during one of these open house days anyway. Opening Sparts Den would give students who live on Main Campus a place to eat on Main Campus while JDH is closed.

3. Lastly, a mix of these two solutions could work.

With YCP hosting two to three open houses a semester, this is an issue that arises more than once. Perhaps these solutions can be put into place for the next open house on April 2. In addition to the open houses, the dining hall closes for Accepted Students Day as well. With two Accepted Students Days coming up on March 19 and April 9, students will have to face three more Saturday mornings without food being readily available on Main Campus.

All in all, we have spoken to many who have also been affected by the closing of the Johnson Dining Hall for open houses. Communicating this closure to the students seems to be lackluster and occurs very late in the game. The closure is inconvenient, and we have several stories to prove this.

So, we ask: Can you adopt any of our solutions as a means to make the closure of JDH less of an inconvenience to those living on Main Campus, or is there another workaround?


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