Campus life is coming back into full-swing, and this semester is bringing changes to the operational hours, options, and student expectations surrounding dining.

Students can expect to see a wider variety of dining options on campus. Aside from Douglass and Danforth, the College is also reopening dining options within the engineering quad—California Rollin’ II will be opening on the first floor of Goergen Hall, the former home of Optikale.

Hours at dining halls and retail dining locations on campus are still shorter than before the COVID-19 pandemic. Peet’s Coffee Shop will also be closed for the foreseeable future, as staffing shortages continue to be a problem for dining operations this semester.

“Two weeks ago, on Monday Aug. 29, we lost five managers, including one of the managers at Eastman, the manager at Starbucks, the manager at Peet’s,” said Interim Director of Dining Services and Auxiliary Operations Todd Ferrin. “All of these Harvest Table employees resigned on that Monday. What we had to do was contract our operations a little bit to get more people in Starbucks and hold off on our opening of Peet’s.

Ferrin says Dining Services is aiming for Peet’s to reopen right after fall break. On top of retail dining, dining hall services continue to remain below pre-pandemic staffing levels.

“Within the residential dining centers, I think we are still down 30 full-time positions,” Ferrin said. “At the height of the pandemic, we were 65 positions down. We have never used so many temporary agencies to try to recruit new employees. We’ve done social media posts, we’ve posted things on outside job boards like Indeed and other online services that we’ve never done before in hopes of attracting more qualified personnel.”

Ferrin also said he believes student employment is a crucial factor to a successful return to full operations on campus, and Dining Services is actively looking for students interested in working on campus. Ferrin said he expects dining operations to be fully staffed by sometime in October. 

The changes to dining this semester have not gone unnoticed by the student body, as some students are voicing their confusion surrounding dining hall hours. 

Junior Sophia Lenigk said students are struggling to remember the hours, and confusions surrounding hours of operation have also led to concerns surrounding food accommodations. 

“I can’t imagine what it would be like for someone with dietary restrictions, like a vegan,” junior Alex Barrientos said. “On top of the hours, and remembering what’s open and where to get what. That’s got to take actual planning.”

Barrientos believes there should be more food accommodations in the dining halls for dietary restrictions.

In regards to late-night dining, Ferrin cited staffing shortages and the shut down of RTS transportation at the University of Rochester as the reason for the early shutdowns at retail dining locations on campus.

“During the pandemic, we lost the city bus route, which helped our employees who were closing late at night get home,” Ferrin said. “And when we lost that Rochester transportation, we lost all of our late closers.” 

When asked if students can expect late night dining options to return, Ferrin said it would depend on increased staffing levels and transportation logistics to be sorted out.

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