News | Student Life

Students divided over dining renovations to John Jay

  • Elise Guarna for Spectator
    FEED ME | Increased ventilation in John Jay allows for cooler temperatures in the hall.

 John Jay Dining Hall got a makeover this summer, with Dining Services installing an Asian cuisine bar and soda fountains, replacing the flooring in service areas, and removing walls to free up more space.

Vicki Dunn, executive director of dining services, said the space changes were made in response to students’ complaints about John Jay’s sauna-like atmosphere in the warmer months of the year. 

According to Dunn, the heat in parts of John Jay was due to ventilation issues—temperatures in the serving areas were five or ten degrees higher than those in the dining areas.

Scott Wright, vice president of campus services, said that the original plan was to improve just the dishroom. Administrators decided, however, to implement additional changes that were more likely to be noticed by the student body.

“We sort of realized that a lot of students are not going to get very excited about a dishroom that they’ve never seen—they kind of know it’s there but they’d rather not know,” Wright said, “so Vicki had the idea of let’s do the servery at the same time.”

The conveyor belt for dirty dishes was also upgraded in order to reduce mechanical problems.

The new soda fountains—known as freestyle machines—were installed to provide more drink options to students. Students select their drinks from a touch-screen on the machine—but, each machine is only able to dispense one drink at a time. 

Kenny Schefers, CC ’16, said that the new drink areas create “a bottleneck” with everyone trying to pass through a relatively small space.

Similar models are currently installed in the Law and Business schools, and in JJ’s Place.

While hours at John Jay will stay the same this year, Dunn said she has already started a discussion about extending them for next year. 

Plans to build a second staircase in Ferris Booth are also in the works. Wright, responding to student complaints and a post on WTF Columbia, said that Dining has hired an architect to evaluate the space.

Students have had mixed reactions to the changes. 

Madeline Hirshan, BC ’14, said that while she likes the new soda fountains, she doesn’t understand the organization of certain areas of John Jay.

“The location of the silverware is very peculiar,” she said. The silverware, which was previously located near the entrances to the serving areas, has now been moved closer to the food stations. Dunn said that she wanted to make the dining hall more like a food court and less like a cafeteria, so she moved the appropriate silverware right by the food “to create more of a retail environment, more of a welcoming experience.”

Schefers also added that while the renovations improved the appearance of John Jay, they could still be more practical.  

“Aesthetically it looks nicer, but functionally it’s less than it was,” he said.  |  @ColumbiaSpec

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