Life and times of Trin dining amid COVID-19 pandemic

Victor Goodman, Contributor

In response to the updated provincial guideline on indoor dining, Strachan Hall has accommodated the new guidelines by removing seating in the dining hall continuing to offer a take-out only option. These moves come in the wake of other sweeping changes at the University of Toronto in response to the new provincial public-health guidelines, which banned indoor dining as of October 10th. However, students are still free to eat outside on benches and tables, as well as to eat in their rooms. Although, considering Trin residences’ reputation for harboring cockroaches and other insects, the email’s instructions to residents to use the provided the organic waste disposal options is highly relevant, and if it is not followed, problematic situations may arise. 

The move was met with general ambivalence or approval by both resident and non-resident students interviewed by the Trinity Times, with students expressing sentiments such as, “It makes sense, given current events”, “That’s pretty smart”, and, “Yeah, I’ll just eat in my room, or on a bench. ”

However, some students did express extreme frustration, not about the recent change, but about the other changes of the year. Specifically, one student expressed frustration about the price of food items, which are being sold on a per-item basis instead of buffet style this year, “I could get a lot more for much cheaper at any fast-food. It’s not that the food is bad – it’s decent but not in correspondence to the price”.

This sentiment is doubtless shared by many as students face additional financial difficulties due to the pandemic and do not want to pay high prices for a mandatory meal plan that is no longer all-you-can eat. This year Trinity College does not offer the normal meal-count based/unlimited plans to residents and non-residents; instead, residence students must buy a plan of “prepaid dollars” (with some additional fees also charged, for which payment is not credited, c.f., the University-wide TBucks program which charges no administrative fees). Students can use these prepaid dollars throughout the year to purchase food at the dining hall in a manner similar to University College’s normal operations.

One resident complimented what they considered to be a highly organized transition to takeout only, and commended the “very organized” structure of the dining services. However, while resident students were notified of these changes by email, no communication was provided to non-residents in accordance with Trinity College’s pattern of treating non-residents as secondary students. Indeed, Trin food services (also known as @trineats) did not post any announcement related to this change even on their social media channels. This lack of communication resulted in a dependence on word-of-mouth communication among non-resident students, and widespread confusion about whether Strachan was closing. 

Thus, while the new changes are necessary and understood as such by the student body in these trying times, they were not communicated to commuters. Furthermore, other changes to Strachan’s Dining services still remain a source of considerable frustration for some residents.

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