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University begins work on new 24/7 dining hall

Photo: Marta Kierkus

The University of Ottawa has closed its cafeteria doors early in order to begin construction on a $5-million 24/7 dining hall that will replace the cafeteria and Jazzy restaurant come September.

“The closure of both these locations is a necessary evil to allow sufficient time to complete this major renovation,” according to the uOttawa Gazette.

The cafeteria closed April 2.

Anne-Marie Roy, president of the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) said the committee that oversees the dining hall renovations, of which she’s a part, had “no other option,” and said the committee even delayed renovations for two weeks.

Jazzy restaurant will remain open for the duration of exam period. Temporary food options have been opened in the Terminus and the Rez Cafe, and other businesses on campus will have extended hours until April 28. Some other businesses on campus are offering deals for students, according to Patrick Genest, manager of food services.

Café Nostalgica is offering a 10 per cent discount for students who pay with their meal plan or use flex dollars, said Genest, who added that the early closure will be worth it once the dining hall reopens.

Genest said they were originally looking to close food services as early as the third week of March. He said they looked at the construction schedule, and following discussions with student groups on campus, pushed the closing date back.

“We looked at changing and moving the dates a bit further back past Easter to have the least impact on students,” he said.

But for first-year psychology student Tatiana DeLorme, the renovations have made her want to avoid campus food altogether and start eating at the Rideau Centre instead.

DeLorme said she doesn’t feel that meals on campus are accessible enough as is, and that without a centralized cafeteria, she is drawn to the convenience of the mall.

“Through the dining hall, there are going to be some advantages and disadvantages that we need to be aware of in the next year,” Roy said. “It’s incredibly unfortunate that this is entirely going to be funded on the back of students, particularly students living in residence who are now going to be dealing with mandatory meal plans.”

Genest confirmed in a previous edition of the Fulcrum that first-year students living in all residences excluding Brooks, Hyman-Soloway, Friel, and Henderson will have to purchase a meal plan.

Roy said one of the disadvantages is that the current cafeteria is being used as a place to socialize and have discussion, but that once renovations are done and it’s been converted to a dining hall, students will lose access to the space unless they purchase a meal plan or buy something.

However Genest said they’ve converted the old financial aid office in the UCU into a 130-seat temporary study space.

She added that the committee wants “healthy and affordable” food options that are accessible to everyone, but that her concern is students not being able to eat on the go, because the dining hall options are largely sit-down.