Some students have noticed the increased number of elementary, middle and high school students on the College of William and Mary campus, specifically in the Commons Dining Hall. While school groups visit the College throughout the year, the number of young students is peaking now because many of them are on spring break and are using this free time to visit the College.
Dining Services is welcoming these students in an effort to show them all the College has to offer. They are being treated as prospective students who may one day call this campus their home.
“It kind of lights up your eyes,” Director of Operations Larry Smith said. “We look at them as a bunch of kids, but they look in awe [at College students]. They think it’s kind of neat.”
The children are parts of classes and organizations from a variety places including California, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama and Connecticut.
Since the College is a public school, the dining halls are open to the public and tourists are treated like any other paying customer.
While the dining halls are happily providing their fare to this influx of young eaters, not all students are thrilled about their presence. Ryan Boles ’15 says the large groups of kids create clogged paths throughout the Caf, as well as long lines and limited seating.
“I think sometimes [Dining Services] overbooks, and so it makes the problem worse,” Boles said. “I don’t really mind if they have the side rooms, but sometimes they’ll sit at booths and spread out sparsely.”
Other students such as Megan Woodward ’15 claim they do not have a big problem sidestepping the swarms of kids.
“They’re always going for the slushies, the ice cream, the pizza,” Woodward said. “They’re not really going for the food that I go for.”
Even though Campus Dining says the dining experience could sway prospective students with their own college decision, some current students are not so sure. Many think 12-year-olds are not thinking too seriously about evaluating meal options and their future college lives.
“For little kids, this is almost like being at a summer camp,” Jordan Cirenza ’16 said. “Some of our friends say the only reason they have middle schoolers coming here is that so they can drink the slushies.”
Students may grumble about having to share the dining halls’ food and seating with children, but they are encouraged to remember these kids may one day be in their position.
“[We] should really look at it as a great experience for the kids, rather than an inconvenience,” Smith said.