Dining Commons at Bowles Shut Down

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Hungry UC Berkeley Bowlesmen will have to walk down more than a flight of stairs to dine next semester, because the university permanently shut down the Bowles Hall dining commons today.

The university announced the closure of Bowles's dining commons May 4, citing insufficient funds and the need for resources for other projects.

Bowles's dining area was specifically selected from all campus cafeterias because the facility's age made repairs difficult and the money for such projects was lacking. Officials said the people currently operating the facility will be transferred to other dining commons.

Bowles residents were angry and incredulous at the announcement, said freshman Bowles Hall Association president Charlie Hayes.

"It's ridiculous to have a dorm without a dining common," he said.

Jeremy Sullivan, a Bowles resident, said students are alarmed to think about the consequences an additional 198 regular Bowles residents would add to the Foothill dining commons.

"There would be longer waits, the quality of food degraded, soda machines giving out carbonated water-do we really need this during finals?" Sullivan said.

In addition to requiring residents to walk an additional seven minutes to eat at the Foothill facility-the nearest cafeteria to Bowles-the closure would also take away from residents' sense of community at Bowles, Sullivan said.

Nancy Jurich, director of dining and conference services for the university, said although some students are concerned about overcrowding and poor service, the Foothill kitchen is designed to serve more than 1,000 students at each meal.

"Re-supply of ice and other (student concerns) are operational issues for the manager to deal with," she said.

Jurich said the university is considering many alternative uses for the dining common, such as transforming the room into a community space stocked with vending machines at which students could use their meal plan swipes. Other suggestions included using the room as an Internet center, supplying dataports for resident programming.

"There already is a strong sense of community since people are not saying they will move out of Bowles just because there is no (dining common)," Jurich said. "A community space is their possibility of such a place being open all the time."

All residents will have an opportunity to voice their worries at a "town meeting," scheduled for sometime this week, where housing and dining staff members will meet with residents to discuss the dining commons' fate.

Approximately 200 signatures have already been collected from residents of Foothill and Stern protesting the closure, Sullivan said. Signatures from Bowles residents are still being collected.

"I am glad that the residents are filling out a petition," Jurich said. "There is still an opportunity to share ideas and compromise."

Students said they were more disappointed at losing a part of the Bowles tradition than actually having to dine somewhere else.

"The quality of food, the personality of the place, the tradition-we are getting our dollar's worth more than anywhere else on campus," said Sullivan. "The staff is unbelievably personable, but Housing and Dining doesn't get it. They think it's irrelevant."


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