One would never think something as simple as a pair of tongs and some open space could make such a big difference. But on Monday afternoon, a surprise greeted regular patrons of upstairs McEwen Dining Hall: the removal of its plastic dividers between students and salad, diners and dessert.

Tongs allow patrons to serve themselves from the dining hall’s selection of baked goods.
Between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., staff members of McEwen Dining Hall took down the barriers which had prevented dining hall-goers from serving themselves. It became the last residential dining hall on campus to switch to self-service with its salad and dessert bars.

Location manager Cathy Robinson said the dining hall staff decided to make the switch because both of the other dining halls, Colonnades and the brand-new Lakeside, have self-serve options for salad and dessert, and they thought McEwen should too.

“I think it was what the students wanted,” Robinson said. “They wanted it to be self-serve because it makes things easier.”

Freshman Aimee Dickens, an elementary special education major, said she likes the new self-service because it gives students better portion control for salads.

The clear plastic divider also used to require that students wait for a single dining hall worker to serve students salad or dessert, often creating lines at both the dessert and salad stations. Because students can serve themselves, these lines are less likely to continue.

Music production and recording arts major James Crooks said he thinks the process is much simpler because of the shorter wait for food. The freshman thinks this system is a definite improvement on the old system.

Those who visit McEwen now have the option to serve themselves however much salad they’d like and what they want without having to wait for a worker to serve them.
“It’s easier, you know, especially with one person working, you don’t have to wait for one person to get served before you get served,” Crooks said. “The salad is self-serve too which I really like. It kind of quickens things, speeds things up. It’s a lot easier for everybody.”

Robinson said that the dining hall will keep the self-serve system for a while to see how it goes, but she said it is likely this change will be permanent.

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