During the peak lunch hours of 12 p.m. or 1 p.m., hoards of students attempt to enter the Sharpe Refectory, Verney-Woolley Dining Hall, Andrews Commons and the Blue Room. During these time periods, the line to grab food can resemble the horrendously long lines at busy theme parks like Disneyland. And when people finally do make their way into one of these eateries, the seating can be insufficient for the number of students. For students who have packed days filled with studying, classes and unfinished homework, these unnecessary obstacles can be distracting hassles in already hectic schedules. As the University continues to fundraise and plan for the renovation of the Ratty, we encourage the administration to consider the traffic patterns associated with such a renovation and solve many of the capacity problems inherent in the current Ratty.
Much has been said about the scale of the renovations Brown is planning for the Ratty. It is projected to be one of the most expensive undertakings associated with President Christina Paxson’s P’19 strategic plan because the whole building has to be gutted. Its food preparation, electrical, ventilation and heating infrastructure will have to be replaced. As the University plans and fundraises in an effort to bring the dining hall into the 21st century, it is important that discussions about service capacity and traffic flow are given as much focus as the more exciting conversations about increasing food offerings and eliminating the buffet style.
Simple structural changes could improve the long wait times associated with eating at the Ratty during peak meal times. The University could consider giving students on meal plans a set meal time when they are allowed to enter certain eateries. For instance, based on each person’s individual class schedule, a simple computer program could discover which time period a student should be allowed to access these lunch places.
Or better yet, the new upgraded Ratty could not only post its menus online, but also allow student to virtually monitor the business of the eatery. As students swiped in, that information could be used to estimate how close to capacity the dining hall was at any given time. Looking forward, there are many ways that the University could consider improving the dining experience during peak hours for students.
But in addition, the administration must also put thought into where students will eat during these renovations so that problems of capacity don’t compound while the Ratty is under construction. It seems difficult to imagine a world in which most students on meal plan are forced to pick between Andrews, the V-Dub and the Blue Room at lunch. Such a scenario would be a traffic jam at best. This outcome should be avoided at all costs, either by renovating the Ratty during the summer or by expanding the hours of other eateries like Josiah’s and the Ivy Room. Additionally, the Blue Room and Ivy Room should accept meal credits all day. This would make students more likely to explore all the options for lunch, thus distributing students around campus in a more reasonable, manageable manner.
As Brown looks into the future and imagines the possibilities for the beloved Ratty, we encourage all those involved in the discussions to be sympathetic of students’ time. Undue congestion can eliminate much of the relaxation associated with a meal time, and any improvements to the Ratty should try to eliminate this everyday frustration for students.
Editorials are written by The Herald’s editorial page board: its editors, Manuel Contreras ’16 and Meghan Holloway ’16, and its members, Emma Axelrod ’18, Noah Fitzgerel ’17 and Aranshi Kumar ’17. Send comments to email@example.com.