Past issues live on in new dining renovations

Past+issues+live+on+in+new+dining+renovations

Joseph Living

When the northern lights simmer across the clear Lake Superior sky, viewers are left with a sense of true awe. However, although they share a name, this feeling is not exactly present when it comes to NMU’s new dining hall.

Leaving all who enter completely underwhelmed, the new dining hall may seem exciting in the eyes of many freshmen and transfer students, but to those of us that have waded through the sludge of college and are entering into our final years here,
we remember the lunchrooms of the past.

Albeit an improvement, the bones of the old Marketplace hide behind the sparkly decor that will without a doubt be no longer in fashion in a few years’ time. Looking closely in the right spots, it’s as if it never changed.

The new dining hall suffers from many of the same problems that the old one did. The main entrance is tucked away and only easily accessible for those who live in the new dormitories. For those of us who live elsewhere, zig-zagging sidewalks are the way to go when coming from the academic buildings.

Upon arrival, the lack of check-in staff backs the lines up during the lunch and dinner rushes into the lackluster lobby, which features cheap furniture piled up in the corner between the new dorms and the new dining hall. Walking in, you are confronted with an array of brightly lit food stations all boasting temporarily trendy individual names as if you were going to write them a Yelp review or they had some sort of previous merit. Assuming the food station you want is even open, the line problems you thought you left at the main entrance continue. Without any way to organize the lines for popular food stations, specifically the grill where many simply come to get french fries, the line extends outward, completely dividing the food area in two with a wall of hungry students. This
seemingly obvious problem appears to only have been caused by poor planning.

Similar flow problems persist into other parts of the food station areas as well, such as the breakfast food station. This station doubles as an area to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, an obviously popular food, and is the only area to feature a toaster. This strange little nook is cramped and inefficient, leaving everyone to enter with the inevitable curse of having to apologize to whomever they bump into.

Assuming you get your food, trying to find cutlery on your way into the actual dining area leaves many students stumbling around, causing even more chaos. Contrary to the common sense that would lead you to assume it’s located near the condiments, they are randomly dispersed throughout the food station areas, rather than being centrally located.

Finally sitting down, the dining area is much larger than the one before and the new seating arrangements have a much more open feel, as does the dining area as a whole. Surprisingly, it is sufficiently secluded from the noise and bustle of the food station area and has a relatively enjoyable atmosphere, a drastic improvement from its predecessor.

After you finish your meal, walking toward the exit, there is a new system that takes your plates away, but as you put them down a new challenge faces you. Turning around to remain inside during busy hours is impossible, as this area also functions as the main exit, giving you the feeling that you’re not allowed to go back in.

These many changes, although better compared to the Marketplace before it, are far from ideal. The new Northern Lights Dining is a truly average establishment that leaves you indifferent to whether or not you would ever come back, assuming you had more practical options.