Claire Li/Sun Assistant Photography Editor

Empty trays lay on the table while an employee makes waffles at Tony Morrison's dining hall on Jan. 29, 2022.

September 20, 2022

Following Influx of North Campus Residents, Employees Reflect on Start of Semester

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With the recent completion of the North Campus Residential Expansion project, Cornell now has the capacity to house around 2,000 more students. The expansion coupled with the new requirement that all sophomores live on campus, North Campus is busier than ever. This influx of students has posed new challenges to Cornell employees, from understaffed dining halls to a flood of packages in mailrooms.

In an email sent to students on Sept. 6, Pat Wynn, Assistant Vice President of Student and Campus Life, noted that the student service centers are currently “overwhelmed” with incoming packages. She stated that North Campus has received 3,000 more packages than it had at the same time last year, leading to lengthy waits of over an hour.

Wynn also encouraged students to be mindful of the packages they order, citing environmental concerns about shipping and packaging waste raised from the fact that the service center has already processed 28,000 packages this semester.

These delays have also extended to North Campus Dining halls that now have relatively longer wait times. Jackson Jacques, an employee at Morrison Dining Hall, said that the dining hall’s staff work hard to ensure students are not waiting for long amounts of time for food to be replaced, adding that employees are generally successful at handling the volume of people that pass through. However, he also said that Morrison could benefit from hiring more employees.

“We’re constantly cooking, we make sure that we always have food available,” Jacques said. “The one thing we’re lacking is staff, we’re understaffed.”

Katie Beard ’26 works at North Star Dining, keeping food stocked and at a consumption-safe temperature. Beard is from North Carolina where the minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. She said she took the Cornell dining job because the $14.20 hourly wage was attractive to her in helping meet tuition costs.

“It’s pretty low stress and an easy way to make money,” Beard said. “I think it’s definitely nice for freshmen.”

However, Beard commented on the lack of staff at North Star, noting that very few students work there.

“I think that we’re really understaffed. I feel like it’s pretty evident because they’re hiring people on the spot right now,” Beard said. “The biggest issue is it’s not necessarily the most fun job and the pay is lower than other places on campus.”

Beard also said the dining hall sometimes struggles to find enough dishwashers, leading to paper plates and plastic utensils being set out.

Originally from Haiti, Jacques said he appreciates the opportunity to work for dining and live up to the professional standards he sets for himself.

“I have other goals, I have my dreams. But now I’m focusing on working in dining and giving it my best,” Jacques said.

Although workers have extended sympathy to students that have to wait in long lines, they also noted that some students can be rude to the staff.

Similarly, Jacques also stated that he appreciates when students cooperate in keeping the dining hall clean, as that can help the employees manage busier days at Morrison.

“We’re very busy on a daily basis, a lot of students come in and out,” Jacques said. “I know the students aren’t perfect, but they can contribute by not creating a mess.”