Following a spike in COVID-19 cases on campus, with a total of 362 positive cases from Feb. 13 to Feb. 26, Binghamton University’s Residential Life faculty implemented changes in dining hall services, including the enforcement of new safety protocols.
On Friday, Feb. 26, BU’s Residential Life closed the College-in-the-Woods Dining Center and began using it as a space to prepare meals solely for BU students in quarantine housing. Additionally, the Hinman Dining Hall has been under construction for over one year now. As a result, the Chenango Champlain Collegiate Center (C4) and the Appalachian Collegiate Center are the only two dining halls still open for all students, thus resulting in a drastic increase in student traffic.
Safety protocols during the closure period included reducing the number of entrance points into C4 and continuing the strict enforcement of social distancing guidelines in both buildings. Such guidelines involve spacing students 6 feet apart in the food and checkout lines in order to limit the exposure of staff-to-student contact when serving.
As of Sunday, March 6, following a drop in COVID-19 cases to 291 for the Feb. 27 to March 12 period, in-person dining at these dining halls can resume at 25 percent density. The College-in-the-Woods Dining Center remains closed indefinitely.
Crystal Lin, an undeclared freshman, expressed her concern about changes in C4 during the shutdown and stated that the single-entrance policy promoted crowding and led to an increasingly unsafe environment.
“I think [the old system] was better,” Lin wrote in an email. “It gave students in [Newing College] more ease of access and also was more effective for [COVID-19] because you all don’t have to go there at once. It also encouraged students to get food more because people could be discouraged by a longer walk.”
Since C4 serves two living communities, Lin said having entrances on both the Newing College and the Dickinson Community sides is far more convenient. She speculated that Newing College students may be more hesitant to make the trip for a meal if only the Dickinson Community side doors are open.
As students all across campus are adjusting to these new changes, Josh Gordon, an undeclared freshman, commented on the frustration of being a College-in-the-Woods resident during this time.
“All of the dining halls are so crowded and definitely not [COVID-19] safe,” Gordon said. “The whole thing makes no sense.”
Residential Life declined to comment on the situation.
Following the closure of the College-in-the-Woods Dining Center, Sam Frevola, a sophomore double-majoring in geological sciences and environmental science, observed heavy traffic in C4 and Appalachian Collegiate Center and expressed concern about overcrowding.
“I feel like [BU] could definitely be handling the dining hall situation better this semester,” Frevola said. “I understand that they need space to make food for the students who are in isolation and quarantine, but it’s not fair that one of the dining halls is being taken away from the students. All it’s doing is making the dining halls even more crowded than they were before, and when you enter the dining halls you get scolded for not being 6 feet apart. There’s just not enough space.”