Sammi Bray ’25
After announcing the decision to push back the move-in dates for the 2022 spring semester in December, Trinity College shared several other policies to keep campus COVID-safe.
Following through on their promise to keep classes online for the first week, the College has chosen to rescind the decision to keep the dining hall closed for seating during the first month of the semester.
While the dining hall has been technically closed and seating not permitted, students have been crowding into dorm rooms, the Cave, and squeezing into a few seats in Mather Hall.
Booths were labeled, “Two per table,” a rather ineffective message. On Thursday, Feb. 3, dining hall staff attempted to enforce the rule and were ultimately ignored.
As a first-year student new to the school’s COVID dining plan, I joined my peers in a feeling of discomfort. Instantly, I felt like I had never been to the dining hall. Lines were longer than normal, and most stations were closed. I appreciated the efforts to make transitioning back to campus safe, but being thrown into a completely new dining system was slightly overwhelming.
My friends and I with allergies and dietary restrictions were disappointed to see the limited make-your-own options. Many of us relied on the sandwich station to always have something to eat. Now more than ever, students are racking up a food delivery bill to get by.
The dining hall app, as well as some of the signs, have also been inaccurate. Promises of items like veggie burgers and french fries often are not fulfilled. While the supply chain issues had certainly impacted the accuracy of the menu last semester, the stress of maintaining the new dining hall set-up seemed to be too much.
The excessive waste resulting from to-go dining is also unsettling. Each time you walk into Mather, you are handed a foam container, a paper bag, and plastic utensils (which the absence of real silverware last semester prepared us for). Some students have been spotted bringing their own bags, while others now have a collection of brown bags stocked in their rooms.
Most stations also have their own containers, leaving students with a large, typically empty container and a variety of plastic and foam packages from each station. Extra plastic is now also used for items like cereal, bagels, and muffins. Desserts, which previously were placed on a tiered-stand now also live in plastic domes.
The responsibility of Mather employees is also increased, with the need to constantly be stationed to serve students.
“This won’t last long,” I told my friends regularly during last week’s to-go dining, curling up on the floor of an Elton dorm and piling into the Cave.
In an email on Friday, Feb. 3, my prediction came true. Beginning the week of Feb. 13, Mather will return to normal — whatever that is anymore.
While I support the College’s attempts to keep us safe, unless we all stay home, the risk remains. In shared bathrooms, classrooms, and beyond, we are interacting with each other regardless. It is unrealistic to expect that most students are following the given guidelines. Opening the dining hall early makes things easier for everyone, but I believe the College should keep to-go dining an option for all students who want to take certain measures to be safe.