If you walk into Peirce Dining Hall on any given day, within five minutes of the doors opening for lunch, you’ll find yourself surrounded by a swarm of hungry students, with lines flowing out of the servery and busy AVI staff managing the rush. With only one dining hall on campus and few other food options nearby, Kenyon’s ongoing increases in class size will continue to place a strain on Peirce. To relieve pressure on the dining hall and help avoid overcrowding and long lines, the College should invest in more staff and food infrastructure, just as they are investing in the construction and renovation of dormitories to accommodate the growing student population.
If the College is actively going to spend large amounts of money on accommodating larger class sizes, there must also be an appropriate increase in capital spent on necessary facilities (such as dining options). Further, this is a consideration that should not occur retroactively, as the College is now facing a disadvantageous timeline to efficiently feed its quickly burgeoning population.
Kenyon has made efforts to meet dining needs, specifically with the newly launched Peirce Express. This is a good step, but increasing dining capacity and efficiency should have been a priority completed on a timescale in conjunction with the planned student body increases. Furthermore, with the renovation of Bexley Hall, the addition of Meadow Lane housing and the ongoing and planned construction of three residence halls on South Campus, a single additional dining facility will not be able to fully manage such an increase in demand.
One possible solution to fill this increasing demand lies in the preexisting infrastructure of the school: the once-operational Peirce Pub. At one time, the Pub was home to The Shoppes, a student-run dining option, but it now idles as a quieter dining space, with the bar and servery area empty. Funding and using an available space such as the Pub to lessen long lines and manage congestion would be a strong step in addressing this demand. The College should expand our food infrastructure on campus as needed, looking toward its existing structures to do so. Even if the Pub reopened only as an additional servery station, it would alleviate the pressure on the sole eatery currently in operation, and with funding for additional staffing would reduce the growing load on current AVI staff at Peirce. In addition, the return of takeout boxes would further enable students to eat at more dispersed times and locations.
Another possibility to help meet increasing food needs is an innovation to dining practices, which could include longer hours of Peirce operation throughout the week, and also reinstating the innovations from COVID-19 dining policy, namely more frequent late nights that were introduced during the pandemic. Returning to these policies would likely come at an additional cost to the school by way of raises and increases to hiring budgets, which should be viewed as a necessary cost when also purposefully increasing the student population. It is unfair of the College to place a continually larger demand on a workforce that hasn’t been largely augmented in both size and capability, and it would be prudent of the school to proportionally mitigate the scheduled increase in crowding and congestion of the dining hall.
If Kenyon wants to invest in a larger student body, then it must simultaneously invest in its students and the workers that enable the campus to operate. With a willingness to expend capital to increase enrollment, there must also be a willingness to spend on maintaining and bettering the facilities and operations of the school. As such, the College should already be increasing investment in food infrastructure, lessening the strain on Peirce workers and expanding the hiring and operational budgets for such infrastructures and renewed dining policies.
Guthrie Richardson ’25 is a columnist for the Collegian. He is a political science major and is from Chapel Hill, N.C. He can be reached at email@example.com.