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Students’ dining options remain limited

<p>Low staffing has forced several dining facilities, such as Bell Tower and several restaurants in Armstrong, to remain closed this semester.</p>

Low staffing has forced several dining facilities, such as Bell Tower and several restaurants in Armstrong, to remain closed this semester.

Eight dining locations at Miami University will be closed for the spring semester, according to the university’s dining website.

Cafe Lux, Haines', Garden Market, Maplestreet Commons Express, Withrow Starbucks, The Greystone and Dorsey Market will all be closed for the duration of the semester.

Bell Tower Commons closed toward the end of last semester, as it was used to feed Remain-in-Room (RIR) students. This practice will continue this semester, Geno Svec, executive director of campus services, wrote in an email to The Miami Student.

All other locations closed this semester were also closed for all of last semester, with the exception of Cafe Lux, which was open in the fall.

Svec said the decision of what locations to close and keep open was based on “the throughput of the locations as well as the location of the businesses.”

All dining halls will also all be closed between 3 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. — as well as between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. for Martin Buffet and Maplestreet Commons — for cleaning. These cleaning breaks were also in place in the fall.

Junior social justice studies and public health major Jazz Bennett worked at Maplestreet Commons from fall 2019 until a few weeks into the fall 2020 semester, when she left to become a contact tracer.

Despite the many changes to student life caused by COVID, Bennett said the changes to her work at Maplestreet were not all that drastic. All employees had to wear masks, and they had a lot more interaction with customers than before since the workers served them food rather than the buffet-style used in the past.

“It was different, but at the same time, it was the same work,” Bennett said. “Just serving food.”

Bennett also said Maplestreet experienced severe staff shortages during the fall semester, which were largely caused by full-time employees being exposed to COVID and a lack of student employees.

“I don’t even think a lot of [first-year] students knew you could work at a dining hall,” Bennett said. “I knew a lot of [first-years] that said ‘Oh, you work there? I didn’t know students could work there.’”

Svec said he anticipates the closed dining locations will re-open for the fall 2021 semester, though this could easily change if the pandemic doesn’t sufficiently improve by then.

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