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Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Campus

Student Center South dining locations scale back weekend hours


Chris Charleston/ The Cougar

The Student Center dining locations have cut back their  weekend operations and hours to account for reduced traffic during their fall semester. | File photo

Adapting to the pandemic has continued to bring new changes to campus, including reduced hours for retail dining locations in Student Center South. 

In previous years, the Student Center has served as a bustling, central space for UH students to grab a bite between classes and socialize. The University has recently scaled back the hours of operation for on-campus restaurants to account for less traffic. 

“More future consumption purchases and less frequency of visits is a general trend we are seeing across food service,” said senior director of Retail Dining Charles Pereira. 

Compounded with fewer on-campus classes and activities, the temporary decrease in retail dining traffic influenced the University’s decision to limit the Student Center South’s weekend availability.

Locations such as Starbucks, Chic-fil-A and Panda Express are now completely closed on weekends, while others like Mondo Subs and the Market have drastically cut their hours.

“We adjusted our hours of operations and quantity of open locations to manage the decrease in demand while still providing proficient food service offerings,” Pereira said. 

Many students, including public health freshman Huriyah Hasnain, miss the energy of eating at the Student Center with friends.

“I feel like it’s easy to meet up at because it’s in the center of everything,” said Hasnain. “But I thought all the stuff on campus was going to be open, just with less people.”

While study rooms and seating areas are still open for weekend use, the Student Center’s reduced dining hours have significantly decreased student traffic.

Other students have embraced the changes, describing the Student Center as more “secluded” and “clean.”

“I like how empty it is because I feel more at peace,” Hasnain said.  

For commuters or students without weekend meal plans, reduced hours at the Student Center may pose new challenges. 

Hasnain brought up concerns that some UH students may experience difficulties accessing affordable meal options or lacking transportation to eat off-campus, especially if they can’t visit home on weekends. 

Both the University and its students must work together to balance the protection of UH students and faculty while moving forward during these difficult times. 

Potential changes to what the Student Center will look like on weekends next semester remain fluid, pending that more campus activity can draw in students. 

“We are planning to maintain our current hours of operation for the Spring semester, but the driving factor of changes to hours will be dependent on campus population and in-person class enrollment,” Pereira said.

For more of The Cougar’s coronavirus coverage, click here.

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