Some Ithaca College students are expressing frustration with the long lines and wait times at the campus dining halls and retail dining options.
Both the Terrace Dining Hall and the Campus Center Dining Hall (CCDH) are experiencing backups this semester as students return to campus for an in-person semester. The college is also experiencing understaffing issues, which is adding to the pressures on campus dining halls.
On weekends, the CCDH is open Saturdays for brunch from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and dinner from 4 to 7 p.m. CCDH is open for dinner from 4 to 7 p.m. Sundays. Terrace Dining Hall is closed on Saturdays and is open for brunch from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and dinner from 4 to 9 p.m. Sundays. On weekdays, the CCDH is open for breakfast from 7 to 10:15 a.m., for lunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and for dinner from 4 to 7 p.m., and Terrace Dining Hall is open for breakfast from 8 to 11 a.m., for lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and for dinner from 5 to 9 p.m. Some students said they were waiting in the dining hall lines during weekdays for upwards of 30 minutes.
Sophomore Josh Mollo said he believes that outside retailers should be open more, especially with the Campus Center being closed until 4 p.m. on Sundays.
The only retail options available to students on weekends are Ithaca Bakery and Towers Marketplace. Retail dining options on campus include Chick-N-Bap, which is open weekdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., the Food Court, which is open weekdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Ithaca Bakery, which is open weekdays from 7 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and weekends from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.; Park Cafe, which is open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Library Cafe, which is open weekdays 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., the Express Cafe, which is open weekdays 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. for breakfast and 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. for lunch; and Towers Marketplace, which is open Thursday through Sunday 5 to 10 p.m.
Despite being able to place their orders in advance on Grubhub for all retail options, students still experience long wait times, even for smaller orders, as many of these orders end up being placed around popular eating times.
“I am very appreciative of all the dining options here at IC,” Mollo said. “I just believe it would be way more beneficial for them to be open throughout the weekends when Campus Center is closed. I think that would eliminate some of the bulky lines for sure.”
Sophomore Jalen Lewis said that he works at Towers Marketplace and that he believes the limited hours of operation this semester do not provide enough hours for student workers.
Lewis said the lack of hours has resulted in him making less money than he did while working for Towers Marketplace last year.
He said that although the stress caused by long lines of students is a lot to handle, it is usually easy to stay focused.
“Working during rush hour is somewhat stressful,” Lewis said. “Especially when multiple orders are coming in at once. But it’s normally easy to get back on track.”
Katie Stone, assistant director for upper campus operations for Dining Services, said she believes that these lines are not out of the ordinary, as waiting is a part of all meals whether it be self-made or at a restaurant.
“When an individual orders food at a restaurant or for take-out, is there not some waiting involved?” Stone said via email. “When one cooks food for themselves at home, is there not some waiting involved? When 100 people descend upon a dining unit at once, not everyone can receive food at once. Naturally, a queue is necessary for guests to go through service lines, make decisions and place food on their plates.”
Stone said she believes there are things individuals could do in order to deal with these lines.
“Guests can consider altering their arrival times at different dining spots, opting for less busy times,” Stone said via email. “Some other suggestions — don’t get right in line when you enter the dining hall. Choose a table, put down your bag. If there is a line for the food you want, grab a beverage or some fruit, soup or salad first. If you have to wait in line, grab a book, listen to music, talk to a friend.”
Sophomore Danielle Hansel said she understands the stress that comes with feeding thousands of people per day, but she believes the first step in overcoming long lines is for dining halls to be more available.
“I understand that things get backed up,” Hansel said. “It’s a lot of food to prepare. I just feel like the dining halls should have better and more available hours to try and combat the issue.”
Sophomore Carly Weiss, a transfer student from University of Rhode Island, in Kingston, Rhode Island, said she believes that the lines at the Ithaca College dining halls are not that bad. Weiss said the lines at her old school were substantially worse.
“The lines are not that bad,” Weiss said. “Compared to University of Rhode Island where waiting on line for an hour was a common occurrence, I don’t think waiting on line for 15-20 minutes is that big of an issue.”
Weiss said she understands and sympathizes with the dining hall staff because they are tasked with preparing meals for hundreds of students daily.
“With hundreds of students pouring into these dining halls daily, the last thing people should do is place any blame on the dining staff,” Weiss said. “There is nothing they can do to prevent the onslaught of students during busy times of the day.”