Editorial: Campus input needed in expected dining hall closure

Esteban Diaz | Editorial Cartoonist
Esteban Diaz | Editorial Cartoonist

When Baylor opens its newest dining hall, East Village, in the fall of 2012, students might have to bid adieu to one of the current dining halls.

At a March 27 town hall meeting, Baylor administrators told a group of students the university might close an existing dining hall after East Village Residential Community opens in August. The two dining halls considered for removal, said Dr. Jeff Doyle, dean for student learning and engagement, are Collins and Memorial. Penland would more likely receive a renovation, and Brooks would not close because of its importance to the Brooks community.

Doyle pointed out there are convincing reasons for keeping both Collins and Memorial, but that was after he told the Lariat several meetings have taken place in which closing a dining hall was discussed at length.

While we understand the logistics might force the closure of Collins or Memorial, we strongly urge Baylor to consider the daily impact such a closure would have on students.

Keeping Collins and Memorial might not be cost effective, which could possibly affect students’ tuition. Baylor might end up losing money on one of the dining halls once East Village opens.

The financial consequences of keeping the current dining halls are not to be taken lightly, but we see potential problems for students on a daily basis if Collins or Memorial dining hall closes.

Collins Residence Hall houses 590 students, many of whom use the dining hall on the first floor. Without their dining hall, those women will probably either go to Memorial, a short walk down Seventh Street, or they’ll have to go to East Village, half a mile away.

This rendering is a projected ground-level view of the dining hall of East Village. The view is projected from Third Street and Bagby Avenue. Courtesy Image | Baylor University

East Village will appeal to students with its new approach in which meals are prepared with fresh food to order. But when schedules stress students and every minute of the day counts, students will probably take the quickest and most convenient option they can to eat.

Most likely, Collins residents will choose Memorial dining hall over East Village if Collins’ dining hall closes. Likewise, Memorial, Alexander, Dawson and Allen residents will go to Collins if Memorial’s dining hall is closed. This could create an overflow at either Collins or Memorial.

Five dining halls might be too many for a college campus, especially at a private school with just 14,000 undergraduates, but we’re not convinced that East Village is in a central enough location to replace either Collins or Memorial.

Dining halls primarily serve people living on campus, mostly freshmen required to spend their first year on campus per Baylor’s policy. The closest residence hall to East Village’s dining hall, excluding East Village Residential Community, will be a half mile away. It’s not realistic to think dining hall traffic will be as evenly distributed as it is sans Collins or Memorial.

Before a decision is reached, we hope Baylor has more interaction with students like this town hall meeting. Meetings behind closed doors don’t reach the people most impacted on a subject like this, and it’s irresponsible not to allow student representation.

We look forward to more town hall meetings, online surveys and even the use of social media if that’s what it takes to makes sure students have the dining options that serve them best.