Outdoor dining for students will return for two weeks at the University of Dallas Haggar Cafe when the campus reopens after spring break.
“We have a plan to partner with the Office of Student Affairs to re-introduce outdoor dining for a two-week trial period,” Casey Teng, the general manager of UD’s dining services, wrote in an email interview. “Student satisfaction is extremely important to us, and we want to take every step we can to ensure a safe, engaging, and enjoyable dining atmosphere.”
Overall, the student body at UD is excited for the comeback of outdoor dining, even if it is only a trial period. “It would be really nice to have that outdoor option again,” said Anamarie Garcia, senior theology major. “I usually go for indoor, but I know sometimes the outdoor option is really nice.”
Angela Bawardi, a sophomore biology major, agreed. “I am indoors all day doing classes, so the fresh air and the outside environment help increase my tranquility and lower my stress,” she said. “The ambiance and the background sounds of wind and animals [when eating outdoors] help me focus on other things, ground me, and allow me to feel my emotions.”
The cafeteria allowed students to eat outdoors on the back patio and the Mall in previous years. “[However,] many service items were left outside in the Mall area and inside the residence halls; not returned at the end of the meal,” Teng said. “While accidents do happen, we are hoping that students will return their items to Haggar Café once they are done eating their meal.”
The problem of unreturned dishes and utensils led to the end of outdoor dining and the implementation of green to-go boxes for use outside the cafeteria.
Students are aware of the possibility of these problems returning and the potential consequences. “If they’re having to spend more money on plates than they can afford to; maybe it’s for the best that it stays inside,” Sarah Goodykoontz, a junior psychology major, said. “I’m hoping it all goes well.”
She is confident that preventive measures can be implemented. “If there was a way to remind [students] like signs if need be. I know it’s hard because we shouldn’t need that to [know] not to take or throw away plates.”
Freshman biology major Vinh Nguyen agreed. “I think they could make it work,” he said. “There isn’t really any way to mark the dishes or anything like that. I feel like that’s probably the best option from their perspective.”
Bawardi suggested that the cafeteria use disposable plates and utensils to solve the problem of unreturned things.
According to Teng, the green box option will still be available to students. “We will continue to do our part to reduce our carbon footprint by offering re-usable containers to take a meal to-go,” he said. “The Office of Student Affairs will be communicating more details.”