The cafeteria’s new seating area. Used under Creative Commons License.

No one can disagree on how great the Dining Commons look after its renovations over the summer. When I first walked into the caf, I was thoroughly impressed. It’s not that the old caf was an eye-sore, but what it looks like now is a big improvement.

However, despite the aesthetics and what’s on the surface, I think the Dining Commons has also lost some things. The biggest problem students now face as they come for lunch and dinner is the functionality. I know I’m not alone when I have almost tripped and spilled my food all over someone because the aisles are so much smaller than before, making it almost impossible to walk through.

There are a few new seating options in the caf, including the nice large booths, counter tops with high chairs, and tall tables for two. The new seating provides variety, which we can never have too much of. Along the walls are easily accessible outlets to charge phones and laptops that no one should complain about.

However, when it comes to the new chairs, they are very hard to slide in so that people can get by. It is a pain to get them to slide out for that matter. Some of us like to lean back and enjoy our meal, but now if anyone does that, the walkways go from barely passable to an obstacle course. When I sit down with my plate of food, I do not want to get up again for fear that it might take ten minutes for me to get through the tiny aisles, get whatever else I need, and trek back to my seat.

The busiest times in the caf are immensely busier due to a new lack of seats. It is not unusual to have to wait in line to get your card scanned, but already I have found myself in line for fifteen minutes. With the new renovations and the updates, I cannot help but wonder why the scanning process was not also updated.

I think the caf has never looked better, and it’s wonderful that it has received an upgrade after 18 years. Prospective students will be impressed and pleased to see such a good-looking Dining Commons. However, that brings up another issue altogether. Lunches on Red Carpet days are crowded already and even more difficult to get a table. The PDR is open on those days, but sometimes there’s still an overflow of people. I think I’ll steer clear of the caf on Red Carpet days, since every other day is a struggle already.

The renovations look tremendous, but when students come to eat in large numbers, it is a whole other task to first find a table, and if we’re lucky to find even that, to find food, and then to find our way back without blocking up the aisles or holding up lines. Despite the wonderful aesthetics and new seating options, the functionality seems to have been forgotten in the renovations of the Dining Commons.