On Saturday, EVK opened an hour earlier as a response to student and parent requests for longer dining hall hours.
Associate Director of Hospitality Erik Russell said that EVK will open at 9 a.m. instead of its previous time of 10 a.m. on the weekends for the rest of the school year. The Parkside dining hall will still open at 10 a.m., and Café 84 will remain closed on Saturdays and Sundays.
Johnna Kosnoff was the first to raise the question when her son, Kyle, mentioned the dining hall hours in conversation. Kosnoff posted in a Facebook group for parents of USC freshmen, asking if this was a concern for anyone else.
“I didn’t want to start off his career at USC by complaining,” Kosnoff said. “But it worried me. It seemed like a long time to go without eating, especially for kids who do wake up early on the weekends.”
Other parents responded, telling Kosnoff that they shared her concerns. The group decided to contact the administration through a suggestions outlet on the USC website.
Fellow parent Nancy Bertschy also called Russell directly and received an email reply that explained the difficulties that Hospitality faces in keeping longer dining hall hours.
“They were extremely open to the suggestion, and mainly they emphasized that they had been keeping hours based on what student needs had been in the past,” Bertschy said. “I just think it’s best to operate on what’s best for student needs now, not in the past, and I know this is a problem for many of these students.”
This isn’t a new topic for Russell, or for Student Body Vice President Jordan Fowler. Last year, Fowler conducted a survey with over 370 undergraduate students to examine their dining needs. She sent the survey to Hospitality, suggesting that they review some of their hours for the upcoming 2015-2016 school year.
“Getting something to eat is a logistical problem for many students, and it’s something that we want to prioritize,” Fowler said. “I think we can agree that it’s impossible to provide for 100 percent of student needs, but we can at least attempt to respond to what we’re seeing.”
Fowler pointed out that comparative schools such as UCLA, Stanford and the University of California, Berkeley provide dining options until 2 a.m., and Carnegie Mellon keeps one hall open until 3 a.m. Her survey reported that 48 percent of students would prefer dining halls to be open later on weekdays, and 29 percent would like them open earlier on the weekends. It also showed that 59 percent of students would be willing to pay more for later dining hall hours.
Though Fowler is pleased with the recent adjustment in times, she hopes to see Hospitality also respond to the student need for later dining hall hours illustrated in the student survey. Parents such as Bertschy and Kosnoff agree that later dining hall hours would be beneficial. Russell, while unable to start a conversation on that topic this school year, hopes to be able to continue to adapt to student needs in the future.
“We always do the absolute best we can to serve our students,” Russell said. “We always want this to be a win-win situation. Our budget is set for this year, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t open to something later on down the road.”