With West Village being in operation for more than a semester now, it is clear where the new common space has failed freshmen and whether or not it functions as an adequate alternative to Woodruff Dining, which it essentially took the place of.
West Village’s station-style dining, similar to that of the food court in the Student Center, is distinctly different from the communal buffet-style dining in the traditional dining halls. The value of traditional dining, in terms of the experience and value, is then lost for freshmen living on west who are not willing to make the trek to east campus. North Avenue, Brittain and the late Woodruff dining halls have the advantage of turning eating into a communal experience rather than a personal one as in restaurant-like dining. Freshmen at these locations were able to spend hours at a dining hall because their meal swipe had no limit on how much they could take. By getting rid of a traditional dining hall on west campus, Tech limits the number of times freshmen break bread together. This allowed them to be used as a reliable meeting place. Dining as a communal activity is a quintessential part of the freshmen experience and forces first years out of their comfort zones by creating a space that has to be shared. Introducing restaurant-style dining as the only option for first years on West Campus undermines the freshmen dining experience.
It also does not offer as much in terms of value. Freshmen often buy meal swipes their first year, and with swipes being able to be used for bottomless plates in other dining halls, West Village simply does not offer them enough for their dollar.
Although West Village provides residents with a convenient place to study and collect, it offers little in the way of a dining hall. Changes will have to be made in order to get back to the essence of what was a formative experience for so many.