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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Disparity between northside and southside dining options

The+Commons+houses+most+dining+options+for+Southside+residents.
Photo by Photo by Abbey Santoro

The Commons houses most dining options for Southside residents.

In light of Texas A&M Dining’s newly announced dining locations in the works for the MSC, Polo Garage on northside and West Campus, some southside students were left wondering, “What about us?”
Student opinions have displayed discontent with what some say is a disparity between dining options located near residence halls on the north and south sides of campus. The northside of campus has more dining options with Sbisa Dining Hall, the Sbisa Underground — which includes major chains like Chick-fil-A and Papa Johns — and A&M-specfic restaurants such as Copperhead Jack’s and Houston Street Subs. There are more options in the Aggie Express located inside of Hullabaloo Hall.
Laura Torres, communication junior and northside resident, said she feels it’s very easy to find an enjoyable place to eat that is also close to her dorm.
“Because of Sbisa and the Underground, I feel like I have a lot of options on the northside that are all very close to where I live,” Torres said. “I feel like northside has more options than southside, and they’re adding more options to the MSC when I feel like they should have been added to somewhere on southside.”
In contrast to the multiple options available on northside, southside residents only have the Commons dining hall, Southside Market, Aggie Express and Starbucks on the Quad. The next closest dining locations are in the MSC, which Jenna Talash, education freshman and southside resident, said is not as convenient as it may seem.
“I wish they had more options for residents on the southside, especially so we didn’t have to walk to the MSC or to northside in the dark,” Talash said. “The Commons dining hall is only open for select hours, and after a while all of the food starts to taste the same. Northside students have way more options, and there is always something open for them.”
Creating new dining locations is not as simple as students may think. Stephanie Denson, district marketing manager for Chartwells at A&M, said large amounts of planning goes into deciding what options to add on campus and where to add them.
“A lot of what we do is working with the university and deciding where to put dining locations around campus,” Denson said. “It’s a collaborative decision to determine where things can go, which includes timelines, neighborhood research, traffic studies, brand research and food preference surveys to figure out what is needed in a certain area that is not currently available.”
Denson said the university in its partnership with Chartwells will typically place dining locations in pre-existing buildings rather than build brand new facilities just for dining purposes. This is why the Polo Garage, planned to be completed in spring of 2021, will have new dining options incorporated into its design.
“That’s always something we have to consider, where the real estate is and where we can put something,” Denson said. “That is why it was decided to put dining locations into Polo Garage as they’re building it because of the amount of students that are located in that area of campus.”
The southside of campus proves to be a challenging place to incorporate new options into because of the lack of vacant areas that can be renovated into dining spaces, and the space needed for equipment and other technical aspects. Facility availability and timeline planning is a large piece of the puzzle, Denson said, and one that, for the time being, is not in the short term plan for A&M dining.
“We also have to consider where we can put equipment and logistics like that, so it’s about finding spaces that are available for those locations,” Denson said. “There aren’t many buildings available on the southside that fit that description of what we need currently.”
However, Denson said Chartwells and the university value hearing from students about their opinions concerning campus dining.
“It’s a very thought out process that involves many steps and many different departments, but I don’t want students to think that we take their opinions lightly,” Denson said. “We want to please our students. Just because right now we don’t have something planned for the southside doesn’t mean that there won’t eventually be something.”

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