The dining at the College of William and Mary has consistently been one of the most contentious topics on campus, with many students in previous semesters harboring a deep dislike for the food. However, one of the biggest changes the College has seen since the beginning of the current academic year is that the previous dining contract with Sodexo that had been in effect for nearly a decade has now been replaced with Aramark. This new agreement will span for 10 years, but even in just the short time the Aramark contract has been active, students across the campus have already noticed a variety of differences in the dining halls. This article will break down some of the most significant and noticeable changes that have taken effect in the past few months, in order to examine what students of the College can expect for the next decade.
One major difference concerns Late Night at Sadler Center’s Center Court, which has been an incredibly popular and well-loved staple of the College experience for many years. From 9 p.m. to 12 a.m., students from all across campus would flock to the dining hall to take advantage of the special menu that is offered, which would typically encompass chicken wings, mozzarella sticks, tater tots and ice cream along with the regular offerings of the Grill. However, this year, the much-loved special late night menu is no longer around. Now, Sadler, newly joined by the Commons Dining Hall (nicknamed Caf), are both open until midnight, which provides greater accessibility to dining options for those who have late evening classes and extracurricular commitments. However, there is essentially no difference during late night compared to the rest of the day; the different food stations remain active with the same selections the entire duration of the time the dining halls are open, leading students to mourn the loss of the beloved menu change at the 9 p.m. mark every night. It is truly a tragedy that incoming freshmen will not have the opportunity to experience the glory that is Late Night at Sadler.
Additionally, in what appears to be one of the most popular changes implemented for the new year, students can use a meal swipe at Caf to receive a container of sushi without the use of dining dollars. There are usually 10 pieces of sushi in each container, and, from my personal experience, they have been fresh and without issue. Students can find the station right at the entrance of the dining hall, as the sushi is stored right behind the area where students normally swipe in. However, the sushi swipe does not stack with the swipe required to enter Caf, meaning that two are required to eat your delicacy inside at one of the tables. This is not a problem for those with the All Access Plan, but everyone else would probably be better off eating at the outside tables or at their residence.
The visual aesthetics of the dining halls have also changed. When walking into either Caf or Sadler, the first thing that a student will probably see are the large, colorful and unique labels given to each individual station. For example, the food hall in Sadler has Under the Hood, True Balance and Sweet Nothings, just to name a few. Giving each spot its own named identity, these labels add an undeniable amount of character to the dining experience. Although this is purely a cosmetic feature, it still makes one’s breakfast, lunch or dinner a lot more memorable than it otherwise would be.
Students who frequented the dining halls last semester may have noticed one particular change becoming incrementally more utilized in the dining halls’ various stations: self-serve. A substitute for the traditional method of being given a plate by a dining staff worker, this method had students using scoops and tongs to fill up their plates themselves. However, this change seems to have been reverted, as almost every station is back to the old system. While the lack of self-serve options, compared to other aspects of the new dining program, is relatively more minor of a change, it still remains noticeable for the upperclassmen who frequented Caf and Sadler last spring.