Ming DeMers/Sun Staff Photographer

Students wait in line at the wok station at Toni Morrison Dining Hall, one of the three dining halls on North Campus that has seen increased crowds this year.

February 2, 2023

North Campus Dining Halls Crowded with Long Lines at Start of Semester

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With five new dorm buildings having been added to North Campus since 2021, North dining halls have become increasingly overwhelmed this academic year. After the permanent closure of Robert Purcell Marketplace Eatery, North Campus students are left with three options — Morrison Dining, North Star Dining Room and Risley Dining Room. 

The North Campus Residential Expansion project was designed to help house all freshmen and sophomores in on-campus housing. This includes residential halls, co-ops and campus-affiliated housing. 

Meal plans are mandatory for undergraduates who live on campus, and freshmen are required to purchase unlimited meal plans. With a rising number of students and a falling number of dining options on North Campus, student crowding has led to a wide range of issues. 

Omo Agbonile ’26 said that he notices very long lines at Morrison Dining on Mondays when the curry chicken, a favorite among students, is served.

“[The line] goes all the way from around the corner and halfway to the door, making a right angle,” Agbonile said.

Erick Caridad ’26 also lamented the dining halls’ long lines, citing his experience at North Star Dining during breakfast time.

“[The line] was from the left of the taco station all the way to the door,” Caridad said. “Then I saw [a group of people] were eating what they got from the line. It wasn’t even that good.”

According to Tolani Aliyu ’23, a current Barbara McClintock Hall resident who also lived on North Campus before the dorm expansion, the dining halls are much more crowded now compared to last year. 

“At the beginning of the semester, both floors of [North Star Dining] can get really full,” Aliyu said. “That never happened during my freshman year.”

Some students do not consider long lines a serious concern. Caridad said that while the more popular food stations tend to have long lines, the less popular options usually have shorter wait times.  He also recognized that there are busier time periods throughout the day, during which more students tend to visit dining halls. 

“It gets crowded, but it doesn’t really seem like an inconvenience, at least to me,” Caridad said. “It’s just [that] there’s a lot of people here that also want to eat, which I happen to also want to do.”

Similarly, Aliyu said she accepts North Star Dining’s frequent crowds and has no trouble finding a table. She expects the situation to improve as the semester continues.

When dining halls are crowded during rush hours, students may have trouble finding a table to dine at with their friends. (Ming DeMers/Sun Staff Photographer)

“When classes haven’t started, students tend to go to the same dining hall at the same time,” Aliyu said. “But after the semester has started and everyone has different schedules, [dining halls] can get less crowded.”

Aliyu’s explanation matches the University’s perception of the problem. Karen Brown, senior director of Campus Life Marketing & Communications, suggested that students visit other dining locations during crowded times.

“Our experience is that long lines are not unusual as everyone settles into new patterns and gets used to their schedules at the start of a new semester,” Brown said. “This is also a great opportunity for students to go a little farther afield and explore different eateries at different times of the day. You’ll find that not all of our dining rooms are crowded at the same time.”

Campus eatery selection can become even more difficult for students whose schedules do not align with dining hall hours. Agbonile said he wished the dining halls would close later for students who come home late and do not want to spend extra Big Red Bucks — eateries that do not accept meal swipes, such as Bear Necessities, are often students’ only late-night option.

“I understand that [Dining] are pretty understaffed and [dining workers] already have to be [in the dining hall] for a lot longer after it closes,” Agbonile said. “But 10 P.M. [would be an ideal time for closing]. I can be satisfied with eating dinner at that time.”

Despite the crowd and long lines, Agbonile and Caridad both expressed their love of Cornell Dining for its great food and the convenience of not having to cook for themselves.

“Dining halls are my favorite place on campus,” Caridad said. “It’s always fun to go to the dining hall with my friends.”