Late nights are the cornerstone of the college way of life. For North Carolina state students looking to “think and do the extraordinary,” extracurricular activities, full course loads, and socializing often push the lunch hour into the late evening. This becomes a problem for those who depend on their meal plans and campus meals, as many of these restaurants close early.
Of all the dining options available on campus, only a small handful are open after 8 p.m. The Clark Dining Room, Case Dining Room, and Atrium Food Court all close before or at 8 p.m., leaving students with little choice for dinner. After 9 p.m., students have a limited choice between the Fountain Dining Hall (a difficulty in walking for those who live outside of the West Campus) and Tuffy’s Diner and Los Lobos at Talley Student Union (which offer little healthy options, if any).
The early closing hours overlook the reality of the student lifestyle. For many, the evenings are an opportunity for club meetings, sports games, work responsibilities and study. Even if the students arrive for dinner before the premises close, their days are probably far from over. With later bedtime, students are opting for later dinner times to maintain their late-night tendencies.
Until 8 p.m., the Clark Dining Room is packed with diners trying to cook a meal just before the doors are locked. As a freshman, I quickly realized how common it is to have dinner later in college. Several sources have shown that most students eat dinner at 8 p.m. or later due to busy schedules during the day. With most places on campus closing early, students in the state of North Carolina have little choice and time for their last meal.
In addition to needing more hours during the day, NC State Dining could also benefit from more dining options on weekends. Popular choices such as the Case Dining Hall and the Atrium close on weekends, limiting the variety and nutritional diversity available to students. Weekends are a rare time in a student’s week when they have time to sit down and eat meals without rushing. But since so many options aren’t available, weekend meals are bleak.
While there is the alternative of venturing off campus for meals, this is easier for some students than for others. Students without a car or the financial freedom to eat out several times a week depend on their meal plans for balanced and satisfying dining experiences. Each semester, students can pay anywhere from $ 800 to $ 2,475 for their student meal plans, which is a significant portion of their overall university expenses. It’s important that NC State not only offers a wide selection of restaurants, but also flexible hours that allow for good, diverse meals when students need them.
As a new student, I appreciate the relative variety of dining options offered by the University. However, the hours of operation need to be adjusted. By keeping dining halls and restaurants open later in the evening as well as on weekends, NC State can ensure that students can “think and do” anytime without going hungry.