Hours of operation make weekend dining on campus a challenge

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There’s a new sign outside the Marketplace at Doan saying which foods, and how much of them, you can take out of the dining area.

The very fact that Dining Services had to make such a sign is quite telling: first-year students living on-campus do not feel that they are getting what they are paying for when they are forced to buy a meal plan.

However, this feeling of paying for more than they are getting goes beyond the Marketplace.

SVSU provides several other options for on-campus dining, but there’s an annoying catch to these options: their weekend hours are shorter, some so short that they’re not open at all.

For instance, Albert E’s Café is closed all weekend. Einstein’s is closed Saturday and Sunday with condensed hours Friday. Starbucks and the P.O.D. Mini Mart are closed Friday-Sunday.

The C-Store does not open until noon all weekend. Papa John’s opens at 6 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Even the Marketplace doesn’t open until 11 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

As such, those who stay on-campus during the weekends and do not have a car have even less dining options. Besides this, the fact that so many students live on-campus makes it harder to understand why these establishments chose to close on the weekends.

Students such as myself are (over)paying for the convenience of living on-campus yet are not being offered the conveniences we are charged for on the weekends.

For students who do stay on the weekends and have a meal plan, the weekend hours of on-campus eateries are also inconvenient since they cannot eat before 11 a.m. and are given far less options to choose from.

Although students can drive to a store, buying groceries still feels like a waste of money. The point of buying (or being forced to buy) a meal plan is to not have to worry about food – but apparently only for five out of seven days of the week.

These establishments can still make more money if they were to stay open during the weekends. A fair share of students will stay on campus each weekend, as evident by the never-empty student parking lots. With many of them having meal plans of declining balance, they would certainly rather eat on-campus than pay out of pocket for groceries, take-out or dine-in.

To be fair, there certainly are less students on-campus during the weekend. However, to be more fair, students still come to campus for sports, clubs and organizations, studying, and other such activities.

Even if there are less students on campus on the weekends, other people from the community come to SVSU during the weekends who certainly would use the dining options if they were open.

Every weekend, I see community members playing bridge, using the Ryder Center, meeting with a book club and a myriad of other activities.

Furthermore, many community members come to SVSU for special events such as concerts, plays and sporting games. Imagine how much money these dining services would make if they opened their doors a little longer, then.

While some dining services do extend their hours for certain weekends, such as Family Weekend, even these extended hours tend to only last as long as the event does, making its usefulness to SVSU students limited.

Furthermore, these dining options tend to be busier during these occasions as well, making it even less appealing and less convenient to students.

While making money is certainly important, so is offering students the services they pay for.

Simply extending hours only for special occasions is not good enough, nor is it fair for students who pay good money for meal plans and declining balance. It is unfair to the students to have so fewer dining options during the weekend.

Students pay to stay on campus for the conveniences that SVSU provides.

The fact that all these conveniences are often closed or opened for shorter periods of time during the weekend is unfair to students.