Peirce Dining Hall is often regarded as one of the central fixtures of Kenyon’s social life. It is a headquarters to a myriad of clubs, organizations and language tables. Many prospective students also admire the unique dining traditions that Peirce offers. This year, however, given the hazards of large indoor gatherings, Peirce will limit such social interactions via its grab n’ go dining experience and plexiglass surrounding each seat in the dining hall.
In an Aug. 21 email, Housing and Dining Chairperson Ever Croffoot-Suede ’23 announced that Peirce Dining Hall will serve take-out boxes until the quiet period concludes this Friday. After the quiet period, Croffoot-Suede hopes that students will be able to dine inside Peirce between plexiglass dividers.
“There is plexiglass surrounding you as you are eating, so that when you take your mask off, there will be less interaction,” she said.
Croffoot-Suede’s announcement came after months of planning and constant readjustment in the face of rising case numbers and insight from public health officials. As of May 21, the state of Ohio eased restrictions on indoor dining, but subsequent spikes in case numbers throughout the summer added to Kenyon staff members’ concerns. In July, the Housing and Dining Committee decided that a grab n’ go model most effectively limited the number of students in Peirce during the period of student testing known as the quiet period.
“The whole goal is to have less students in the dining hall at any given moment — to stop a bottleneck,” Croffoot-Suede said. “And also to provide safe interactions between students and employees.”
It is possible that Peirce will regain a sense of normalcy should students continue to follow the College’s COVID-19 protocols and the case count remain low. Although peer institutions have made decisions to close dining halls completely and only offer takeout options, the Housing and Dining Committee recognized the importance to students of being physically inside Peirce. Croffoot-Suede reflected on the unique social culture Peirce fosters.
“It would really hurt the Kenyon spirit if [students] couldn’t eat in the dining hall at all during any point of the year,” she said.
Even though Peirce works differently this year, Sarah Ganz ’23 says that it has not dramatically changed Kenyon’s social life thus far. “I think that the social aspect has stayed a little bit similar,” she said. “My friends and I will pick up food and have a picnic outside.”
With new rules and regulations comes new hours. Starting on Sept. 24, breakfast will be served from 7:30-9:30 a.m., lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and dinner from 4:30-8 p.m..
The new hours also include Late Night dining Sunday to Thursday from 8:30-11 p.m., starting Sept. 6. Students were invited to fill out a Google Form to help the Housing and Dining Committee come up with dinner options.
Though she understands why such changes are necessary, Ganz added that the atmosphere of Peirce is just not the same. “There was something about just staying for hours inside of Peirce…” she said, trailing off. “That will be missed.”