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The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Dining halls decrease to 50 percent capacity

Compostable products will be used in dining halls instead of metal and plastic items.
Abhinav Krishnan
Rand Dining Hall, as photographed on Aug. 30, 2021. (Hustler Staff/Abhinav Krishnan)

UPDATED: This story has been updated to include information about seating restrictions in dining halls and a response from Campus Dining.  

Dining hall management teams were notified at approximately 3 p.m. CDT on Aug. 30 that dining spaces were to be limited to 50 percent capacity due to alleged changes in university protocol, per Rand General Manager Rebekah Beck. Campus Dining has yet to formally announce these changes.

She said that the university notification did not mention rises in COVID-19 cases or COVID-19-related issues on-campus as the catalyst of the changes. 

“I’m not sure how that’s going to affect classrooms or any other areas that have a large amount of people,” Beck said.

Per Beck, every other seat in Rand is being roped off to ensure physical distancing, and the dining halls will be using compostable products instead of metal and plastic items. The booths in Rand as well as the tables in front of Local Java and on the upper floor of Rand remain unstrapped. Chairs in E. Bronson Ingram (EBI) Dining Hall were removed to enforce social distancing. However, as of Sept. 1, the seats in Rand were no longer roped off. Beck had no knowledge of six-foot markers returning to dining hall lines.

“You guys are not restricted to come in the dining halls, to stand in line,” Beck said. “We’re going to continue to open as we progress through the semester and have more options available.”

EBI eliminated self-serve dining for main course items beginning at dinner on Aug. 30. Nicholas S. Zeppos Dining Hall and Commons Dining Hall have yet to undergo changes to self-serve dining.

Beck also noted other recent changes in dining such as the shift to in-person ordering at 2301 on Aug. 30 in addition to GET app ordering. This decision comes in wake of the Aug. 22 announcement that nine tents would be reinstalled on campus this fall for outdoor gatherings.  

“We are doing anything in our power to make sure that you guys are fed, happy and safe,” Beck said. “We just want to get you guys fed in a timely manner.”

Senior Sophia Gerberg said that she felt limited in the available dining options on campus this year. Vanessa Haeh, a junior, agreed with Gerberg’s sentiments.

“I understand that COVID is a real issue and that we have to be safe but I also think that it’s unfair to have forced the entire student population to get vaccinated and then still try to limit our college experience,” Haeh said. “College is a really big growth point for a lot of people so I think the fact that they’re limiting that after asking us to get vaccinated is kind of annoying.”

Campus Dining released a service update on Aug. 31 regarding complaints of long wait times in dining halls and understocked Munchie Marts. The statement said that duplicate service lines will be established in EBI and Commons to shorten wait times and that Munchie Marts would be fully restocked as of Aug. 31. It also gave suggestions as to how to dine with minimal wait.

“The quickest food service in the evening is at Kissam, due to low volume, a student can get a made to order grain bowl in less than 5 minutes,” the statement reads. “We would love to see more students in this main campus location.”

Madeline King contributed reporting to this article.

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About the Contributors
Rachael Perrotta
Rachael Perrotta, Former Editor-in-Chief
Rachael Perrotta ('24) is from Cranston, R.I., and majored in cognitive studies, political science and communication of science and technology and minored in gender and sexuality studies in Peabody College. She was also previously Senior Advisor and News Editor. If she's not pressing you for a comment, she's probably trying to convince you that she's over 5 feet tall, cheering on the Red Sox or wishing Nashville had a beach. She can be reached at [email protected].
Abhinav Krishnan
Abhinav Krishnan, Former Staff Writer and Data Staffer
Abhinav Krishnan ('23) majored in political science and economics. You can reach him at [email protected].
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2 years ago

The selfish insistence on a “normal college experience” is the same mentality that has been keeping our numbers up. Is it so bad that some people do not want to catch this virus even when the risk of severe effects is smaller, or that many professors have young children who are not eligible to be vaccinated, or that vaccinated students carrying the virus can still spread it to the Nashville population? Vanderbilt not doing any sort of surveillance testing just speaks to how selfishly they want to pretend everything is fine and normal so they can make more money, when colleges like Duke have already seen an outbreak and had to make more drastic changes.

Concerned Student
2 years ago

Someone needs to make a petition against this. We are all vaccinated, wear the masks, and blah blah blah and now we can’t even sit with people in the dining hall? I almost couldn’t find a seat in Rand today… and it was pouring rain outside so what then? I stand in the corner alone and eat? When it’s not raining it’s like 100 degrees too. I just want a normal college experience. Nobody in the real world is concerned with COVID. If the vaccines aren’t effective enough to let us live normal college experiences, what is? Are we going to graduate with masks on? I’m so sad, step foot off campus anywhere and you’ll see nobody cares about ‘delta.’ The science is clear that the vaccinated are extremely unlikely to get hospitalized or die of it. Like extremely. I had a family friend die of COVID before vaccines, the virus then was no joke. Now 95% of students are vaccinated—let us have a college experience. This can’t go on forever. Thanks.

Concerned Student #2
2 years ago

It’s really sad to see. It’s clear the University is only self interested—doing whatever it can to make a profit off of its students or create a facade to make them look prestigious and leading edge. It feels like we are serving the administrators and not the other way around.