Long lines build at dining halls as Littlepage project falls behind

OSWEGO, N.Y. — The director of residential dining at Oswego State said there’s not much he can do in response to complaints about long lines at Pathfinder Dining Hall.

“We want students to realize they can go to any dining facility with their meal plan… knowing that you’re coming at a time that’s busy, knowing that a 5-minute walk to another dining hall makes for another option,” Dan Siddons said.

Siddons compared the increase of long lines to rush hour times at restaurants. He said just as in restaurants, more staff has been added to those specific times.

“We are more focused on making sure the right people are in the right places on the schedule that reflect when we actually need people to be here to help things run more efficient,” he said.

Although more staff is added during the busier times, students don’t feel this is enough to cut down the long wait times. Sophomore psychology student Gabby Roarke said she wants to see staff get retrained to be experts of their jobs.

“They could do more training on how to work faster and how to deal with when it gets busy.” Roarke also said that she and her friends become “hangry” when waiting in 20-minute-long lines to get dinner, and at night she doesn’t have the availability to eat at another dining hall.

She said that at her time working as a waitress, she would be tested on the menu to make sure she knew the contents and the products which they were serving, and she’d like to see the dining hall managers do something similar.

“A lot of times when I get sandwiches,” Roarke said, “I tell them to put something on it, they don’t know what it is. I have to point to what it is.”

Roarke also recommended that Auxiliary Services, which oversees the dining halls, should hire more full-time employees. However, Siddons said this isn’t feasible.

“We could hire more full-time employees but those come with benefits and that would probably require a meal plan increase to cover those costs,” he said. “We want to make sure we are giving [students] all the opportunities they can get.”

Siddons also said that student employment is down, however he can’t find a good solution to get more students to want to work. The school offers a scholarship to 16 student employees who apply for it, which Auxiliary Services uses to persuade students to work, he said. Last year, they couldn’t give away all 16 scholarships because not enough students applied.

“It takes, actually, a lot of arm twisting to get people to apply,” Siddons said. “But when the managers see an employee that they believe has a good chance of getting one of those scholarships, they’ll reach out to the student and say, ‘hey have you applied yet, have you applied yet?’”

Siddons also added that he would take any suggestions on how to get the word out about student employment. Auxiliary Services has posted on the SUNY Oswego social medias and have added employment tables on campus, including the dining halls, he said.

Auxiliary Services should put bigger signs around campus to attract more workers, in addition to campuswide emails about student employment, Roarke said.

“In between classes I wouldn’t have time to wait on the long lines and go to the dining hall, so I’d grab something at Starbucks, or I just won’t eat,” Roarke said. Littlepage Dining Hall renovations are expected to be done by spring 2024, at the latest.