Pitzer students express mixed feelings, frustration around dining changes

Multiple students sit on couches and chairs while speaking in a cafe.
Pitzer students expressed concerns about changes to the college’s dining options. (Esha Champsi • The Student Life)

As Pitzer students get into the swing of the fall semester, recent changes at McConnell Dining Hall, the Pit-Stop and the Shakedown have sparked conversation across campus. Specifically, students expressed frustration about the elimination of meal swipes at the Pit-Stop and dining hall restrictions, while the newly renovated Shakedown has been a hit.

At McConnell, students are no longer allowed to take utensils or plates to eat outside or in the adjacent patio area of the dining hall, known as the Apron, said Miguel Menjivar, general manager of Bon Appétit. The change, he said, is a return to pre-pandemic policy.

“The reason we have someone standing by the door is because we did go for two semesters with people being used to taking things out,” Menjivar said. “So we have to gently remind them that ‘hey, you can’t let these [plates] out, grab a container and then you can do that.’”

However, Alex King PZ ’23, who attended Pitzer before the pandemic, said the Apron was once an accessible place with regular plate and utensil usage.

“Before COVID-19, you could take your plates and silverware and eat on the patio,” King said. “I’ve noticed that a lot of things have become more bureaucratic and walled off and harder to access, which I think is kind of a bummer because a big draw of Pitzer, at least for me, was how free and open … everything and communal everything felt.”

Bree Reed PZ ’23 felt similarly about the changes to McConnell.

“Prior to the pandemic was the best McConnell has ever been in my opinion,” Reed said. “I remember feeling a lot less anxious going into the dining hall, being able to take our plates out to eat, or being able to go to the mounds with food.”

Feven Aklilu PZ ’26 told TSL that she went to McConnell often last year, but now avoids the dining hall because she can’t eat outside to dodge the crowds anymore.

“I feel like the outside area was the one place where people would kind of enjoy themselves and debrief,” Aklilu said.

Another change that generated student grievances was that the “Pit-Stop [has] entirely stopped taking meal swipes, which has made it way harder to actually eat outside of normal standard dining hall hours,” Sara Kimura PZ ’25 stated.

Menjivar said meal swipes at the Pit-Stop were taken away because of inadequate refrigeration and extra burden on the staff due to the extra preparation time.

A more popular change, however, was the transformation of the Shakedown from a cafe to a taquería.

Menjivar cited a 50 percent increase in Shakedown turnout over the last couple weeks as the result of a summer spent trying out different recipes. Menjivar said his time in school as a San Francisco student and the absence of good taquerías leading to “20 years of looking for good tacos” inspired him to renovate the Shakedown.

Menjivar then spoke of student feedback behind the Shakedown changes, and encouraged students to come with concerns.

“Everybody’s always welcome to come and send an email and talk to me,” said Menjivar. “I’m always at the door, greeting people. And I’m always open to communication.”

Still, student frustration has spilled onto the plates of dining hall workers.

A dining hall worker who requested to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation told TSL that they wanted students to know that they could talk to management about their feedback on the changes.

“You can come to management at any time, because management sees what’s going on, they just need to be spoken to,” the worker said. “[Tell us] what we can do to make this place run better.”

The worker also said that they hoped students would remember that employees are not the ones who make the policy changes. They said a student yelled the expletive “fuck you!” at them after being told dining hours had ended.

“We’re not there to be the bad guys,” said the worker. “We’re there for you guys.”

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