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ISSUE 116 VOL 9 PUBLISHED 11/15/2002

Rerouted cafeteria lines cause controversy

By Jane Dudzinski
News Editor

Friday, November 15, 2002

Traffic in the direction of the cafeteria was unexpectedly rerouted for two days at the end of October.

Hauling themselves and their belongings through a maze of backpacks and jackets, many students are now left wondering what is actually going on.

The main purpose of the rerouting was not to change where students lined up outside of the cafeteria, but to encourage them to use the numerous empty cubbies to store their backpacks and jackets, according to Tim Schroer, director of the Buntrock Commons Office.

There are many reasons behind this plan, but the primary concern is accessibility. Backpacks and jackets lining the entire second floor around the cafeteria, particularly at the top of the stairs, create many potential problems in terms of accessibility for people in wheelchairs and on crutches, as well as for visitors who are unaccustomed to the campus.

"It has nothing to do with the look of it," Schroer said. "Accessibility and fire safety are the main concerns."

Another pressing issue that fueled the cafeteria traffic re-direction was that of fire safety. Although the fire marshal never actually came and deemed the situation dangerous, Schroer believes that it certainly is a fire hazard.

One of the main enforcers of the project was Molly Robinson ’03, a student worker in the Buntrock Commons Office. "The vast majority of students were fine with the new arrangement," said Robinson. "I received very few complaints."

According to Robinson, the line re-direction was a student-generated project in response to complaints about lines stretching down the hallway to the library, and the difficulty for people to get in and out of the building or to the mailboxes.

"It was a two-day experiment," Schroer said. "Would it work? Did it change? We heard everything from students, but it got people to think about the issue now."

For now, however, the cafeteria line re-direction project has been suspended until the office arrives at a better, more efficient solution.

Since then, a large sign has been placed at the top of the stairs near the cafeteria politely asking students to put their backpacks and coats in the cubbies. Schroer commented that he hasn’t noticed a considerable difference in the way students are using the cubbies; instead, he noticed numerous backpacks and coats piled around the sign.

In the meantime Schroer has begun to explore other solutions for minimizing to the cafeteria clutter, including using the newly formed Buntrock Advisory Committee and presenting his problem at the next Student Senate meeting.

He welcomes creative suggestions from students, faculty, and staff alike. Some options already considered are posting a student worker at the top of the stairs during all meal times, similar to the events on Oct. 30 and 31. Another idea has been moving some cubbies to Fireside, which receives a considerable amount of student traffic and temporary storage of belongings.

Schroer cited one of the main reasons for the student resistance to this imposed change has to do with tradition. In the old student center, formerly located in what is now known as Dittman that students did the same thing with their belongings and never changed their patterns when they moved to Buntrock. This was one of the main concerns of the former president of the college at that time.

"Student culture is incredibly hard to change," Schroer said.

Nearby schools like Macalester College, however, have a similar set-up with entirely different student reactions.

Macalester has cubbies that are a floor below their cafeteria, and recently had to add more cubbies in order to accommodate the excessive student use of that space.

Acknowledging that it is difficult to change something as monumental as cafeteria traffic in the middle of the semester, Schroer added that "people shouldn’t be surprised to see a change during Interim or second semester."

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