This semester’s transition back to a fully residential campus has not been without bumps in the road, especially for Tech Dining, campus’ new self-contracted dining service.
During the first week of classes, many students experienced long wait times from a limited selection of food vendors on campus.
“This is my first year on campus, so I don’t know how it was before, but the lines have been very long when I’ve tried to go [eat],” an anonymous student posted on the Tech subreddit. “I even walked out after using a swipe yesterday because of how long the lines were, and they didn’t seem to be moving after almost 15 minutes. I hope things will slow down soon because I don’t want to have to block off an hour minimum to eat lunch.”
Another anonymous student posted about their similar experiences on the subreddit as well.
“Both [West Village] and North Ave have long lines always … and North Ave is always out of food … last night, [I waited] 20 minutes just to see there was nothing for dinner except hamburgers (I don’t eat beef) and waffles,” they posted.
According to a social media post by Tech Dining, a multitude of reasons exist for the long lines and limited dining options. Brittain Dining Hall, a popular dining location on East Campus, had to be closed unexpectedly for maintenance issues. Additionally, Tech Dining has experienced labor shortages and supply-chain issues (like many other dining options around the county at the moment).
The continued construction of the Student Center, which normally houses eight dining options, has also reduced dining locations around campus. Finally, many contractual challenges between outside vendors and the new Tech Dining department led to delayed openings of new venues.
Adjustments to change West Village into an all-you-care-to-eat (AYCE) dining location have also increased wait times and incurred student complaints about decreased study spaces on West Campus.
“I don’t have a meal plan, but even I can see that the layout and location of the building was just not meant for this kind of service,” said Bryan Ong, fifth-year CS. “I’m hoping they either switch it back or at least try to come up with a way they could keep it AYCE but have an open floor plan.”
To deal with the complaints, Tech Dining responded quickly by sending out an email on Aug. 24.
“The start of a semester often brings longer than average lines; Tech Dining is prioritizing these concerns,” the email explained.
The email went on to explain solutions the department plans to enact within the upcoming weeks, including increased staffing, food trucks and retail dining offerings in the Dining Hub at the Exhibition Hall.
It also stated, “Other dining options – Whistle Bistro, The Dive, Wreck Stop, and Cluck-N-Mooh – will open within the next few days. And, following some much-needed repairs, Brittain Dining Hall is slated to reopen next week.”
As of Aug. 31, Wreck Stop and Cluck-N-Mooh have both opened on campus. According to the Tech Dining website, other locations listed above remain unopened or unavailable.
Graduate SGA Vice President of Campus Services Emmett Miskell, INTA graduate student, was also quick to respond to student comments.
“The GT Student Government Association, on both the undergraduate and graduate sides, has heard many questions, comments, concerns about Georgia Tech’s new dining operations,” said Miskell. “While we appreciate every effort Tech Dining has made to prepare a new dining department in a limited time span, there is no doubt that many areas of improvement still remain across all aspects of Tech Dining’s operations.”
Miskell and Bridgette Davenport, fourth-year BA and undergraduate SGA vice president of campus services, created the Student Feedback on Tech Dining Tracking Project to monitor all feedback received from students over email, social media and in-person conversations.
Miskell and Davenport also asked Tech Dining to prioritize certain items for immediate and urgent resolution, including “[increased] service staffing at non-self-serve dining halls to decrease wait time, [expanded] service hours at West Village as soon as possible, [improved] regularity of food station restocking” and other action items.
Despite the dining challenges experienced during the start of the semester, many Tech students have promoted being kind to the dining staff.
“Clearly Tech Dining is still partially in the works … Please remember that it’s not the people who are working’s fault,” said Natalie Peulen, third-year CHEM. “Make sure you say thanks and show kindness to your local dining staff and other staff and realize that they’re probably doing all they can.”
“I know that dining has been difficult the past few days, but I just wanted to shout out the staff at [West Village],” said Sara, first-year MATH. “Everyone I have encountered there is so kind and positive. I hope people don’t misplace their anger towards Tech Dining to the staff.”