While students get to take a breather between their semesters this Winter Break, others will be hard at work as the much anticipated dining hall changes will commence just after finals.
From the floor to the ceiling, Englar Dining Hall will be receiving a complete facelift over this period of time. Students have been anxiously awaiting these renovations and are excited to see the outcome after viewing the diagram, which was displayed in Glar on September 30th during the “Pick Your Seat” voting.
Junior Emily Davis is eager to see the transformation.
“I am really excited about the changes. I think this will definitely be a positive change for the campus. It’s a much needed mature change for the school and the entire student body,” said Davis, who also added that she is excited for Glar to lose its “high school” feel.
Dr. Ethan Seidel, Vice President for Administration and Finance, has played a role in the changes and has confirmed that the diagram seen in Glar during the chair voting is a good indication of how the dining hall will look in the Spring.
“There are still a few weeks left in the design process. Once we get a contractor, we can get a cost estimate and decide what designs will fit within the budget,” said Seidel.
What have been finalized are the structural changes that will occur. The entrance of the dining hall will be moved towards the kitchen, which will allow the walkway to be separated from the seating area.
Both large walls, currently utilized mostly for beverages, will be removed, which Seidel said would create “more floor space all the way around.” Beverages will instead be in a curved center station in front of where dishes are returned.
Upon entering Glar and looking straight forward to the back, there is currently a staged area, which will be removed during the process. By removing the wall below the stage that blocks it off from the rest of the dining hall, it will open up the area. Tearing out the storage closets in the back staged area will fashion more space as well. Doors will be opened in this area to expose an area with a couple of tables and glass windows.
“The glass windows will allow more natural light in,” said Seidel.
The staging on the right, however, will stay. An important change occurring behind this (the staging closest to the porch) is that glass windows will be inserted between the staging itself and the porch. Along with this, there will be doors to enter the porch area that will be able to lock during non-dining hours.
“The dining porch can then be used as a student meeting place,” commented Seidel.
The porch itself will see less significant changes. The opening up of office and storage areas will allow for a small expansion and possibly a bit more seating.
Other planned modifications are aesthetic, including a new floor, new seating, and many more interior design aspects. The ceiling and lighting will change as well, adding color to warm up the dining environment.
Although rumors have flown about changes with the food and with Sodexo, it has been confirmed by Seidel that there is no real truth to the gossip. Students have had mixed reviews upon hearing this news.
“I think it’s kind of bogus just to focus on aesthetic changes when the nutritional value and quality of the food served should be the main priority. I would be happier about the changes being made if the food was also being changed,” said junior Joanna Boccio.
Senior Anthony Gordon anticipates the modifications, despite the fact that the food is staying as is.
“I think the renovation project pretty exciting,” said Gordon, “The fact that the college is making a conscious effort to appease the students is refreshing. If nothing can be done about the food, livening up the furniture is the next best thing. I’m glad I’ll get to enjoy it for my last semester.”
Jan Term students will be among the first to see some of the renovations for themselves as they pass Glar on their way to their temporary cafeteria, the Forum. Students returning for Spring semester could also be temporarily moved to a different eating facility as well.
The Forum has been reserved for this purpose for the first few weeks of the semester as well, because it is likely that renovations will not be complete until mid February.
“I’m pretty sure the project won’t be finished by the end of Jan Term,” said Seidel, who also noted that portions of the dining hall may be ready for use by this time while other sections are still being worked on.
Junior Kelly Clancy is looking forward to returning to a nearly unrecognizable eating facility in the Spring, even if it is not until a few weeks into the semester.
“I think remodeling the cafeteria is a great idea. I think it will create a warmer atmosphere which is important since this campus is our home for 9 months out of the year,” said Clancy.
McDaniel staff members are anxiously awaiting their new lunch spot as well.
“The dining hall is part of student life and students spend a lot of time there, and we have seen a lot more faculty and staff eating there as well,” said Seidel, who hopes that staff members will also enjoy the new environment, “We’re really looking forward to updating and upgrading the dining services.”