Simmons Dining Hall Closure Postponed One Year
The best spot for healthy dining on campus will live to fight another day.
The renovations of Simmons Hall, which would include removing Simmons Dining Hall from operation, have been postponed one year. The project will now begin at the end of the 2010-11 academic year instead of at the end of the 2009-10 academic year.
The postponement is welcome, but not satisfying. There are two issues at stake.
The first is heathy dining. Simmons is the healthy eating destination on the Penn State campus. Dr. Stan Latta of Housing & Food Services has assured us that over the next year, his organization will work hard to make sure that the healthy dining options being lost due to the Simmons renovations will be replaced in other dining commons. That’s a welcome gesture, one that we hope would have happened regardless of Simmons’ closing.
But the other factor will be more challenging for Latta to deal with… that is, the loss of Simmons Dining Hall is a major blow to the Schreyer Honors College.
Simmons Dining Hall is a central place for the Schreyer Honors College. The postponement of the Simmons construction is merely that: a postponement. The Honors College is still losing one of its most attractive features, a loss which will certainly not make recruitment of new students any easier.
What’s the deal? Well, Housing & Food Services is “an auxiliary operation.” That means it needs to be financially self-sustaining. We think that in this situation, that simple need puts the organization’s objectives at odds with what would be best for the University.
The more rooms Housing & Food Services has to rent, the more revenue it generates. Renovating Simmons and removing the dining hall will benefit the operation in the short-term by giving it a few extra rooms (i.e. revenue) to work with while renovations on other buildings take other rooms (i.e. revenue) out of commission. However, this short term fix for the department’s budget has long-term implications for the Honors College.
Simmons lovers, you have two options: you can savor your final years enjoying the dining hall for what it is or you can keep struggling for Simmons to stay open. Lobby H&FS harder. Hand out petitions. Protest. Make your voice heard. Try the quinoa.