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Harvard University Hospitality and Dining Services closed Annenberg Hall and House dining halls at the start of spring break and will not begin to reopen until Sunday, the night before classes resume, forcing students to find creative ways to find meals on campus.
Students called the dining halls being closed “inconvenient” and expressed a desire to have at least one dining hall open over spring break.
Several locations, like Perkins Observatory Cart and Buckminster’s, which accept BoardPlus—money included in students’ meal plans—remain open during break. But, students interviewed reported that they either have not used BoardPlus during the break or that they did not know there were restaurants open during the break that accepted it.
Annenberg, Cabot, Dunster, Eliot, Kirkland, Leverett, Mather, Pforzheimer, and Quincy dining halls will reopen this Sunday. All other Harvard dining halls will resume normal service the following day.
HUHDS spokesperson Christa Martin said that she could not remember a time when the dining halls remained open during spring break.
During spring break, meals are not built into the cost of a Harvard student’s meal plan, Martin said.
In the 1980s, HUHDs (then HUDs) offered an optional spring break meal plan that gave limited dining hall access to students that purchased it, but Martin said that the program was discontinued because of a low participation rate.
“It’s justice that there be some kind of provision for meals,” Christopher W. Crutcher ’86 told the Crimson in 1986. In 1985, the program’s first year, 219 students signed up for the meal plan, which allowed students to eat meals in Kirkland House during spring break.
This Wednesday around dinner time the Kirkland, Eliot, and Leverett dining halls were locked. The Adams and Quincy dining halls were empty. Winthrop’s dining hall had just one occupant.
Students report that Leverett’s dining hall is normally a hub of the House’s social life. Adam T. Nguyen ’12, a Leverett House resident, said that the locked dining hall changed the House’s social atmosphere.
“We lack a space to meet,” Nguyen said. “Everyone that I know is in their room right now.”
The current policy regarding dining hall closings varies from break to break—this past year HUHDs reopened several dining halls at least a week before the end of winter break for Optional Winter Activities Week and kept at least one dining hall open for all of Thanksgiving break.
To survive a break without dining halls, William “Russell” Horton ’14 and some of his friends decided to cook meals for each other throughout the week.
At the start of spring break, he and his friends went to a grocery store and purchased food for the rest of the week. Each day a different person has prepared a meal, ranging from spaghetti with clam sauce to vegetarian sloppy joes made with tofu.
“It’s made us closer because we all went out and got the groceries together, we helped one another prepare each meal, and we helped clean up afterward,” Horton said.
Many students say that they have turned to cooking meals as an alternative to going out to eat, which students said could become costly.
Soo J. Yi ’13 said that cooking meals is a cheaper option.
“Plus, it’s kind of nice to have an incentive to cook your own food,” she said.
A number of athletic teams, including men and women’s crew, require their athletes to remain on campus during spring break in order to practice. During that time, the crew team gives its athletes a meal allowance, which Jorie E. Sullivan ’13, a member of Women’s Lightweight Crew, said most members spend on groceries to prepare their own meals.
But Sullivan says that stipend does not cover everything.
“It would be really helpful to have the dining hall because we would have a lot more variety in the food and it would be a lot cheaper,” Sullivan said.
Talia B. Lavin ’12, said that although she enjoyed the opportunity to explore restaurants off-campus, had the dining halls been open she “would have probably eaten most of [her] meals there.”
Regenia Phillips, director of residential dining for Yale dining, said that Yale used to have a system similar to Harvard’s, where students did not have access to dining halls for all of spring break.
This year Yale will reopen some of its dining halls on the Friday before the end of break—earlier than it had in the past.
“[Students] are very appreciative to Yale dining for opening up that option because there are a lot of students on campus, especially during the second week of break,” Phillips said.
—Staff writer Monika L.S. Robbins can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
—Staff writer Hana N. Rouse can be reached at email@example.com.
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