DeCafé Changes Provide Increased Options, Longer Wait


Photo by Hugh Newcomb, Photo Editor

Students stand in a line at DeCafé, where they can now use meal swipes to purchase food.

Sydney Allen, Alexis Dill, and Eliza Guinn

DeCafé is in line to expand its market into the current seating area as the Rathskeller reconfigures into a larger dining space. DeCafé now accepts meal swipes, a move that has brought a flood of increased traffic into the store.

Dawn Maple, a dining manager at DeCafé, said that all planned changes are aimed to occur over fall break.

“[W]e’re planning to expand the retail space in DeCafé — hopefully over fall break that will happen — and the seating will be in the Rathskeller, so you’ll be able to buy twice as many items as you can now,” said Maple. “Actually, I think it will be kind of cool.”

The change comes after a controversial decision last semester to alter incoming student meal plan options, forcing all first-years to buy a 300-meal-a-semester plan — a number that seems excessive to some.

“I think the dining service is nice here — they have good food,” first-year Tess Siciliano said. “But I think I would prefer to have a choice. I think you should decide how many meals you want a week. Sometimes I go in for just a banana, and I feel like using a whole meal swipe is just a waste.”

Daron Frederick, the building manager at DeCafé, said the change to meal swipes will allow students more dining options.

“Meal swipes are now going to be used in DeCafé for groceries and meals,” he said. “You can only use one meal swipe per period, so … breakfast, lunch, dinner, and fourth meal across campus. It’s worth $7.50 to the student, and what that means is they can purchase $7.50 worth of groceries, and then if they purchase more than that, their swipe will take $7.50 off of the total dollar amount they owe.”

Frederick added that using meal swipes will also get students additional benefits in DeCafé.

“The custom-made sandwiches are typically priced at $6.25,” he said. “We are discounting those for the meal swipes only. If they come in and use a meal swipe, they can get that sandwich for $3.50. That allows them $4 of credit to spend on a drink or a bag of chips or some fruit or something like that. So if they use any other tender, the sandwich will be full price. We’re only discounting it for the meal swipes.”

But some students still hold concerns about the new system, citing crowding and longer lines and waits in DeCafé at crucial meal intervals. College sophomore Devin White said that while he goes to DeCafé every day, the new waits have been an inconvenience.

“I’d say I’m in DeCafé for about 40 minutes on the daily, just waiting in line,” he said. “I like the new meal swipes. That’s good. I can get a lot of food; it just keeps DeCafé a lot more crowded. I’ve been late to football meetings a few times because of DeCafé.”

Dean of Students Meredith Raimondo spoke about the changes, highlighting the increased meal options the system would provide for students. She said that it would be a new positive force on campus.

“DeCafé has implemented a number of short-term changes to try to improve the profitability of the space and improve the shopping experience for students and others who eat there,” Raimondo said.

These dining changes are not the first Wilder Hall has seen. In fall 2016, DeCafé delayed opening by two hours — until 11 a.m. — and the following semester, the Rathskeller was abruptly closed.

Last semester, a Dining Committee task force was created to investigate student satisfaction with Campus Dining Services and possible alternative uses for different spaces.

“The Dining Committee provided excellent input in the spring about the kinds of changes that [will] help DeCafé to provide the best options and services possible to its diners,” said Wayne Wood, general manager of CDS. “For visitors seeking booth seating, the Rathskeller is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., and DeCafé diners are welcome to sit there while enjoying a beverage, snack, or meal.”

However, some members of the Dining Committee say they were left out of the final decision making process.

“As far as decision making processes go, we found out by the end of the semester that we were basically talking to ourselves,” said Jack Rockwell, College senior and longtime CDS employee and student manager, and co-chair of the Dining Committee. “Even though the committee was staffed by people who work in CDS, they weren’t necessarily the people making the policy decisions.”

The committee was open to all community members but primarily featured people related to CDS or dining, including CDS managers, dining hall chefs, student employees and managers, as well as representatives from athletics, student life, and Student Senate.

Correction 9/13/17: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Jack Rockwell is a College junior. He is a senior.