The Undergraduate Council of Students discussed the new Andrews Commons eatery and future residence hall renovations during a conversation with Richard Bova, senior associate dean of residential and dining services, and J. Allen Ward, senior associate dean for the Office of Student Life, at its general body meeting Wednesday.
Several Council members expressed concern that Andrews Commons lacks sufficient eating space and variety in dining options.
The eatery does “not (have) enough cheap snack foods,” said Rebecca Patey ’16, a UCS general body member.
E-Soo Kim ’15, another UCS general body member, said the baked goods are steeply priced, citing the cookies as an example.
“It’s a big cookie, and it tastes damn good, doesn’t it?” Bova said in response, smiling.
Bova said he would look into student requests for vegan baked goods and increased trash monitoring of the venue’s 12 receptacles, which have often overflowed in the eatery’s first weeks. In response to concerns about a perceived limited number of power outlets, Bova said the space already contains the maximum number possible without breaking ground.
Bova highlighted the space’s printing facilities and lengthy hours. “We moved (the printing station) from the basement of Emery-Woolley to somewhere that would be open 24 hours a day,” he said.
The space’s location aligns with the dining needs of the Pembroke community, Bova said. “With 950 first-years and almost 500 upper-class students, there was really no other option for dining on the weekend,” he said, adding that building the new eatery “made more sense” than incurring the much larger cost of opening the Verney-Woolley Dining Hall on weekends.
In response to Council members’ questions about higher food prices, Bova said it costs more to make “every single piece of food” from scratch. He added that Dining Services does not aim to make a profit off food prices but to “break even.”
He also mentioned the importance of an online survey about Dining Services, to be made available to students later in the semester. Bova urged students to report their concerns — such as worries about the lack of consistency in when meal credits are accepted across eateries — in the survey, adding that Dining Services “is really open to it.”
Additionally, Bova outlined plans to give three buildings on Wriston Quadrangle “a nice makeover,” though he declined to specify which buildings would undergo renovations. These plans represent the first tangible signs of the University’s proposal to renovate three buildings each summer. He also described general plans to be completed over the next several years to add several study rooms to Emery-Woolley, construct a new residential building and turn Perkins into all singles for upperclassmen, though he noted that for now the dorm will remain sophomore housing.
Bova described this year’s new online housing lottery system, noting that the deans hope to be “rolling out information in the next couple of weeks … on how to access the new technology.”
Bova concluded by addressing the push by some students for more gender-neutral bathrooms on campus, describing how the law requires gender-specific bathrooms to be available within certain spaces. Though efforts are being made to install gender-neutral bathrooms in addition to gender-specific ones when possible, Bova said the University is committed to “respecting people who like the binary the way it is.”
Ward also addressed the Council, discussing the importance of accessing University resources for emotional help if necessary during the new semester. “Let us work with you to make sure that your semester is successful,” he said. “Reach out and let us know … so that we can provide resources and support you.”
Ward described the upcoming revision of the University’s Student Code of Conduct. “Every five years per the Brown Corporation, the code needs to be revised to see what changes need to occur,” he said.
Kevin Carty ’15, a UCS general body member, said the University’s funding for students to receive outside therapy is “not advertised as well as it could be,” which he called problematic, since some students do not feel comfortable going to the Office of Student Life for help.
When students take time off to deal with emotional issues, “many may not be initially thrilled about taking time off, but many of them in hindsight … are glad that they made the decision,” Ward said. He emphasized that administrators “are not interested in sending anyone to do anything they don’t want to do.”