Liebowitz: Breakfast Options ’09-’10

President of the College Ronald Liebowitz writes:

Since we decided to limit the use of Atwater Dining Hall for special events (e.g., lunch for Language Tables, dinners after special events such as lectures, and as a social space for student events), several students have suggested we offer continental breakfast at Atwater.

Our current plan is to offer full breakfast service at Ross and Proctor and no breakfast at Atwater.  We have another option, however.  We can add continental breakfast to Atwater if we reduce service at Ross to continental as well.  Proctor would continue to serve full breakfast (hot and cold).

The options are spelled out below.  Please let us know which one you prefer.

  1. Proctor and Ross dining halls serve full breakfast (hot and cold), and Atwater remains closed for breakfast; or
  2. Proctor serves a full breakfast (hot and cold), and Atwater and Ross serve continental breakfast (cold).

Please comment!

Additional Reading about: Dining Services, Ron Liebowitz, and Finances.

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27 thoughts on “Liebowitz: Breakfast Options ’09-’10

  1. This all depends on people’s location. I voted against breakfast in Atwater simply because I live on the other side of campus and would never go there.

  2. The Ross complex houses a lot of people….I’d imagine taking away hot breakfast wouldn’t bode too well.

  3. i’m living in atwater suites and would like atwater to be open. people who would have had hot breakfast in ross can walk the short distance to proctor. come on.

  4. Given that location is an issue, what about hot breakfast in Ross (more centrally located) and continental breakfast in Proctor and Atwater?

    (Also, maybe it’s just me, but I like Ross’s hot breakfast better than Proctor’s anyway…)

  5. I wonder if it’s a little early to take a vote on this? What if there are more than these two options?
    Obviously people who live in Atwater Commons (ie on this side of campus) are going to want/need someplace to get breakfast closer to the dorm– especially in midwinter. But people in Ross commons aren’t going to want to have to leave their nice cozy connected building to get hot breakfast, either. So the vote is going to be split down the middle, most likely.
    Just to clarify, are we talking about every day of the week, or only weekdays? I don’t think it’s as reasonable to open Atwater for continental breakfast on the weekends. What if weekdays Atwater has continental breakfast, and Proctor or Ross has continental breakfast depending on further discussion of the implications of those moves, and on weekends we have hot breakfast in both Proctor and Ross and Atwater is closed? Does that make sense?

    What do other people think?

    And incidentally, how many people read/know about Middblog/Leibowitz’s blog? Shouldn’t this be the subject of an all-student email? More people would be interested to chime in on this I think.

  6. I should mention that the poll means nothing. It’s more of a straw poll than an actual vote. But it is a numerical way of “speaking up” without adding another “i want breakfast at atwater” comment on this post.

    Keep the comments up and propose creative solutions!

  7. I think part of the problem with this voting scheme is that a much larger proportion of students live on the side of campus that has both Proctor and Ross (with 30 seconds of walking separating them) and would vote for hot breakfast at both. This leaves the minority of students who live closer to Atwater at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to voting numbers.

    I don’t think it’s unreasonable to be able to have breakfast at a closer location, even just a cold breakfast.

  8. I want to have my cake and eat it too.

    I am living in Atwater next year, so I would like Atwater always open with the best food…

    Seriously, this poll is a proxy for where people are living, but hey, maybe that’s a good way to figure out where to put the food.

    But if you asked me what the right thing to do is (and remember I’m going to live in Atwarer), I’d tell you, sucky life for all is better than life for some and starvation for others.

  9. I like it when places serve cold breakfast – they get better cereal, usually. Plus it’s much less crowded.

  10. Seeing as how close Proctor and Ross are to each other it makes sense to keep Atwater open for at least some sort of breakfast option. It does take a lot less time to walk from Ross to Proctor than it does to get from Atwater to any of the other dining halls.
    Having some sort of breakfast option at all dining halls in the morning would be best in my opinion but I would also second the request that weekend brunch remains a hot meal at both Proctor and Ross.

  11. Again I think there should be a distinction between week and weekend days, but in addition, I think it makes far more sense for Ross to be open for hot breakfast and Proctor to be continental. It may be different with the new space, but Ross always served much better hot breakfast than Proctor, and Ross seems somewhat more centralized than Proctor, especially for people living towards the Atwater side of campus.

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  13. I like the idea of having continental breakfast in Atwater since it would be unfair to remove a breakfast option from the entire Atwater complex, when most of us like to eat breakfast in the morning (which most health organizations refer to as being VERY important).

    That being said, I would rather prefer if Ross had hot breakfast and proctor had continental breakfast simply because Ross has a better variety of hot breakfasts than Proctor and because it is more centrally located of the 3 dining halls.

  14. Am I correct in assuming that this would go into effect in January (after Ross is renovated)? If so what will the breakfast situation be in the Fall?

  15. I understand the need to cut costs at the college in light of the endowment position. However, I think the administration’s priorities are all wrong. This college is here to serve students. That is, students are the paying customers. Therefore, cuts should be made where they have the least impact on student life, period. Keep atwater open, keep full custodial service, and cut something else. There are numerous useless employees at this college, this is a good time to let them go. Examples: the art museum has something like 11 employees, ACE has 4, the library has all sorts of random people who do nothing, and SEO needs a total overhaul. The quality and location of dining has a direct effect on the quality of student life, and should be maintained at all costs.

  16. I live right near Proctor and Ross, but I still voted for having the continental breakfast at Atwater. I did this because I know if I was living at Atwater, I would really want people to take me into consideration even if it meant not getting hot breakfast at Ross. People keep saying that you’ll vote depending on where you live, but I wish people were considerate enough to make this not the case.

  17. Ross and Proctor are right next to each other, so if Ross people really want a hot breakfast they can walk to Proctor. Those who live in Atwater, however, are going to have a looong and cold trek if they have an 8am in Le Chateau, for example, and don’t get breakfast on that side of campus. Without Atwater breakfast, students there will be likely to skip breakfast altogether, leading to more falling asleep in morning classes and generally worse performance in class.

  18. would this apply on weekend?

    if i had it my way, atwater and proctor continental m-f, atwater closed weekends and hot breakfast at proctor saturday and sunday.

  19. I agree with Sarah, and voted for a continental breakfast in Atwater. To respond to “College Senior,” I agree with you that the college should strive to maintain the quality of student life, are we are “paying customers” (in part, but not in full), but I think you are entirely misreading the situation here. The college’s first and foremost priority is to maintain the quality of education provided at Middlebury, so I think it’s sensible that luxurious amenities, such as three dining halls, are seeing cuts. I think having three dining halls is great, but it is not necessary to the college’s mission, so I think cutting back to two dining halls was a logical and necessary decision.

    If you think we should cut things like the library that’s fine, but I must disagree with you. The library does not just have shelves of books, but a number of other resources to help students and faculty with research and classes (ever wonder how all those ERES readings get online?).

    I’m not sure the administration has “got its priorities all wrong,” but I think you might.

  20. I second the idea of putting hot breakfast at Ross – it definitely makes the most sense to centrally locate the hot breakfast and put the continental breakfasts on the edges of campus.

    Also, how is each scenario working considering that Ross is closed in the fall and Atwater in the spring?

  21. Really I think it is completely ridiculous how, we the students, are starting to become nickel and dimed for everything. Things like future seemingly inevitable costs to print, cost for parking that everyone knows won’t reduce the number of cars on campus and is mainly for extra revenue, raised prices in the grille, huge reduction in services, smaller concerts and a lack of a spring concert, as well as various other things bring into question how comprehensive our “comprehensive” fee has actually become. Is the college just using us and finding ways to make us pay for things twice? That doesn’t seem like a way to create a bunch of happy alumni that will donate money to the college later on. Why would we if we had to pay for everything twice anyways?

    Now let’s consider the question of dining. It makes NO sense to put the only hot breakfast in Proctor. If anything, it should be in Ross or in Atwater and Ross. Also, why not offer the waffle iron in Atwater next year along with a cold breakfast. That way the chefs don’t need to make anything extra and students still have some option of a warm breakfast.
    I will be living in Atwater next year, and don’t care that we have a new dining hall that we want to show off (seemingly the only reason for the hot food being there) and do not want to run across campus in a morning blizzard at 7am to get some food before I have to run back across campus to class. That makes no sense!

    Many of these decisions seem to be made without any input from students and I would like to invite our president to a lunch at 12:30 in Ross or Atwater currently and see how he likes to wait in line for 20 minutes for food. I have seen him at lunch at 11 when there are no lines and it’s not hard to figure out why he doesn’t think it will be a problem when there are only two dining halls open next year. Let’s not forget the brilliant idea of telling people to come earlier or later. Perhaps one would like to consider that the reason people come to lunch at certain times is that they are free then to eat before they rush off to class again or perhaps it is because they just like to wait in line. Really… come on!

  22. I don’t like the idea of closing Ross for hot breakfast. I don’t live in Ross but it seems far more central than Proctor. Couldn’t this proposal be slightly altered by closing Proctor for hot breakfast and leaving Ross open?

  23. Anon @ 11:55. I was forwarded your comments and invitation to Ross by a MiddBlog reader, so allow me to respond:

    1) many of the changes you cite are of course in response to the greatest economic downturn this country has seen in 80 years, and maybe more. One can hardly expect that in such a financial context, services at organizations that rely on non-comp fee income (gifts and endowment revenue, which is also related to gifts) would remain the same and not be cut. Remember: though the comp fee is what it is (steep), it only covers about 68% of the costs of a Middlebury education. The remainder comes from gifts and endowment income, both hit hard by the economic circumstances beyond Middlebury.

    2) No student input: I wish were more student input. We had another open forum two evenings ago for students. 15 students attended (at the recommended best time — 7 p.m.). There were 10 the last time, and about 30 time before that. We have students on the budget oversight committee, both of whom have solicited their fellow students and try to provide advice and ideas to the larger committee. We have a suggestion box that students have used to submit ideas, and students have come by during my office hours all year to suggest this or recommend we don’t do that. The idea for breakfast at 3 dining halls (continental at Atwater) came from students who came to office hours.

    3) lines in the dining halls. Yes, I have seen them, as I have been there (not as early as 11, but sometimes just as the rush subsides). These lines should be far less next year, as the total seats available next year will far exceed the number we have this year. The capacities in both Ross and Proctor will be expanded significantly. The lines this year were a function of the Proctor renovation, which is the largest dining hall, but as I said, the number of seats will be higher than what we had before this year’s renovation.

    4) Hot breakfast at Ross v. Proctor. Will suggest to Matt Biette that he weigh which of these makes most sense. Proctor is larger than Ross (I believe by 200 seats) and so perhaps the thinking is that, with one hall open for hot breakfast, it should be the largest…but I will check.

    5) Nickel and diming: we, like any school that has a significant endowment, have LARGE deficits due to reduced endowment income, so of course we need to find ways to increase revenue or cut current expenditures. That said, some of the changes you mention were in the pipeline for discussion long before the financial crisis. We have discussed parking fees for 15 years (at least), to name just one of these, as there is more to that proposal (for those who proposed it) than revenue.

    I understand the frustration you and others feel about the cutbacks. But it is hard to understand how, given the financial situation in the world today, one might NOT expect changes to the status quo. The country has just experienced a decline in wealth on the order of 35% (and that might be conservative), and so the closing of a dining hall, and a reduction in frequency of how often a residence hall is cleaned, while not welcome, should not be such a surprise.

    I encourage you and all others to provide input on things that we might do to reduce costs and increase revenues to preserve as much as we can that students love and have experienced here. In all of our deliberations, we are trying to preserve what most students, faculty, and staff believe to be most important to preserve, but we understand anything we change will of course affect someone or some group, too.

    Ron

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