Outside of papers, tests and deadlines, food is often the problem that complicates life most for Principia students. Above the eternal debates of quesadilla or burger, Naked Juices or having meal plan funds in the last week of the semester, looms the biggest conundrum of them all. Why is the Tuesday-Thursday lunch schedule the way it is? For this year’s student body president, senior Susie Bonwich, solving this issue has been a major part of the administration’s agenda.
Ever since the change to the semester system from the quarter system, the Tuesday-Thursday lunch schedule has been an issue. Students coming from the CSO service on Tuesday or quiet time talks on Thursday find themselves in a seemingly endless line, only to be forced to hurry through their lunches in order to be at their 12:05 classes. Often this schedule leaves students with only 15 minutes or less to actually eat their food and commute to their classes, a less than ideal system in the best of times, and often an especially poor one for students who have active classes (like dance or PE) or classes that are far away from the Concourse.
Fortunately for students, student government is on the case. Bonwich has been working on this issue since last year, when she worked on Student Senate as the Dining Services representative. This year, Bonwich and senior Kendall Shoemake, the student body vice president, have been working with student government and various other school entities to develop a solution to lunch crunch issue.
According to Bonwich, one of the first solutions that student government considered was the creation of a second line for students with a 12:05 class. They realized however, that not only do nearly half of Principians have a class at that time, but also that the first line is often faster, due to the greater experience of the servers that work that line. “It turns out that the two workers [Marilyn and Sue], they’re in line one and they’re faster than line two.”
Another solution that was considered and eventually abandoned for nearly the same reasons was the idea of having a special sticker or designation on the keycards of students who had a 12:05 class. However, once class enrollment numbers were reviewed, it became evident that such a solution could not work because most students going through the line at that time had a 12:05 anyway. Therefore, attempting to distinguish their identities would have little effect on the pre-existing traffic problem.
The biggest solution that is currently being debated is the question of potentially changing the schedule as a whole in order to accommodate a more beneficial lunch period. In some ways, it is a particularly hard time slot to change. “Really, the problem is that lunch can’t be opened until after quiet time,” said junior Nick Boyd, this year’s Dining Services representative on Student Senate. Bonwich concurred, and says that one of the difficulties that student government faces is the need to preserve the integrity of quiet time, both for the faculty and the students. Org itself is a fixed institution, as faculty often wishes to support both Org, along with off-campus services on Wednesday nights.
Instead of moving Org itself, then, it is the academic schedule that may change. According to Boyd, “The big one [of the proposed solutions] that Student Senate has talked about is the idea of possibly making classes earlier in the mornings.” Since only about a third of the student body has an 8 a.m. class on those days, it may make more sense to shift classes about 15 minutes earlier, to a start time of 7:45. On those days, Dining Services would open at 7 a.m. to accommodate breakfast times. The other option is shifting the academic day later by 15 minutes, which would in turn take 15 minutes off of sports practices. Although Athletic Director Lee Ellis has proffered support for this plan, many members of Student Senate feel that shifting the schedule will have a negative effect on the athletic teams.
Whatever the eventual solution, Dining Services has been “so accommodating about all of this,” Boyd said. They will do what they can to help students get to class both on time and well fed on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The biggest issue now is finding a solution that works for everyone.