Late nights are a cornerstone of the college lifestyle. For NC State students looking to “Think and Do the Extraordinary,” extracurricular activities, full course loads and socialization often push dinner time into the late-evening hours. This becomes a problem for those dependent on their meal plans and on-campus dining as many of these dining locations close early.
Out of all the dining options available on campus, only a small handful of them are open later than 8 p.m. Clark Dining Hall, Case Dining Hall and the Atrium Food Court all close before or at 8 p.m., leaving students with little variety for dinner. Past 9 p.m., students have only the slim choice between Fountain Dining Hall (a pain to walk to for those living outside of West Campus) and Tuffy’s Diner and Los Lobos at Talley Student Union (which offer few healthy options, if any).
Early closing times overlook the reality of college students’ lifestyles. For many, the evenings are a time for club meetings, sports games, job responsibilities and studying. Even if students make it to dinner before places close, their days are likely far from over. With later bedtimes, students find themselves opting for later dinner times to sustain their late-night tendencies.
Right up until 8 p.m., Clark Dining Hall is filled with diners attempting to squeeze in a meal right before doors are locked. As a first-year student, I have realized quickly how common it is to eat dinner later in college. Multiple sources have shown that most college students eat dinner at or after 8 p.m. as a result of busy schedules during the day. With most places on campus closing early, NC State students are left with limited choices and time to get in a final meal.
In addition to needing longer hours during the day, NC State Dining could also benefit from more weekend food options. Popular choices such as Case Dining Hall and the Atrium close on weekends, limiting the variety and nutritional diversity available for students. The weekend is a rare time in a student’s week when they actually have the time to sit down and have proper unrushed meals. But since so many options are unavailable, weekend dining feels bleak.
While there is the alternative to venture outside of campus for meals, this is easier for some students than it is for others. Students without cars or the financial liberty to eat out multiple times per week are dependent on their meal plans for balanced and satisfying dining experiences. Each semester, students can pay from $800 to $2,475 for their student dining plans — a significant portion of their overall college expenses. It’s important that NC State not only provides a wide dining selection but also flexible hours that make good, diverse meals available when students need them.
As a new student, I appreciate the relative variety of dining options the University provides. However, the hours of operation need adjustment. By keeping dining halls and restaurants open during later evening hours as well as on weekends, NC State can ensure students can “Think and Do” at any time without going hungry.