For the past seven years during the spring semester, students have trekked to Appel North Star Dining Room, only to find that its doors were closed on Friday evenings and Saturdays.
This has created an overflow of students at the Robert Purcell Marketplace Eatery, one of two primary dining halls on North Campus, according to Damian Hajduczek ’20.
“I think it’s just purely inconvenient and annoying that [Cornell Dining] closes [North Star] down,” Hajduczek said. “[RPME] is always packed and it’s a pain to find seats, and their food selection is generally worse than North Star’s. Besides, Cornell isn’t exactly struggling on a tiny budget to have to close Appel on the weekends because a smaller handful of people would show up.”
However, the Cornell Dining claimed North Star closes for the purpose of preserving financial resources, both for the staff and students.
“The beginning of the spring semester is a little unusual in that after the first couple of weeks, we generally see a drop in the number of students dining with us, as some join our Greek system and thus spend more time in fraternity and sorority houses,” said Mark Anbinder, web communications manager, on behalf of the Cornell Dining Team. “There aren’t as many people on campus dining on the weekend as there are during the week, so we don’t keep as many dining rooms open for those meals.”
Anbinder added that this will help the dining team be “good stewards of students’ meal plan dollars” without “keeping extra facilities open unnecessarily.”
Students workers at the North Campus dining halls also acknowledged the validity of the dining team’s decision.
“I think it could be beneficial for them to be open on Friday and Saturday, but whenever I do work a Saturday dinner shift, it’s not extremely busy, so there isn’t necessarily a need to have two dining halls open,” said Isis Encinas ’20, who is a member of the dining staff at RPME. “I work Sunday dinner every week, and it’s almost always super slow since both of the dining halls on North are open.”
Eldor Bekpulatov ’20, who regularly dines at North Star, also acknowledged the dining team’s efforts to reduce resources.
“While it is a disappointing to wake up on a Saturday morning and walk to [North Star] only to find out that it is closed, I think it is a fair course of action to close [North Star] on Saturdays,” Bekpulatov said. “Looking at it from only a financial point of view, it can help save resources for the school.”
However, Bekpulatov suggested a change in the dining hall hours could improve the dining experience of North Campus residents.
“I think there has to a form of compensation for the students,” Bekpulatov said. “I think it would be fair to all if Appel stayed open on Friday evenings and both dining halls opened a little earlier than 10 a.m. on Sundays.”
Meanwhile, Anbinder also provided alternatives to improve students’ dining experiences.
“We’d like to suggest that students pay a visit to Risley Dining Room on Friday evening to check out that option,” Anbinder said. “It’s also on North Campus, just a short walk away, but tends to be less crowded. Everyone’s welcome in our West Campus dining rooms as well; they’re a brisk walk or a short bus ride away, and each has its own character.”