Late Night dining in danger due to behavioral issues, damage

Students enjoy the different dining options in The Commons on Wednesday, April 22. 4/22/15 – Medford/Somerville, MA – . (Sofie Hecht / The Tufts Daily

Problems with overcrowding, poor behavior and damage are threatening the existence of the Late Night Dining service held at the Commons Marketplace.

“We really want to work with the student body to stop some of this negative behavior and activity which continues to put the future of the program in jeopardy,” Director of the Office for Campus Life Joseph Golia told the Daily in an email.

The Commons, which reopened last semester after undergoing renovations, allows students to use a meal swipes from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights.

According to Golia, the Late Night dining program, which started operations for the semester last Friday, has been popular among Tufts students — up to 800 students can visit in one night.

“It’s become very popular, which is great,” Golia said. “The problem is, it’s a lot of people coming at once…A lot of those people are coming after 11 p.m., and really, they’re coming within a small block of less than an hour.”

This sudden influx of students causes lines and backup, Golia said.

Director of Dining and Business Services Patti Klos said that managing Late Night is often challenging due to problems with intoxicated students.

“The challenges are anything from inebriated individuals trying to get into the servery even though there’s no room…to throwing up all over the floor and the staff having to take care of that,” she said. “And then [there’s the] general behavior in the dining room — smearing food in places it doesn’t belong. Just a variety of things.”

According to Klos, there are many health benefits to having a late night dining option at the Commons.

“It’s a service that we offer that helps disrupt a binge cycle, so it has great validity in keeping young people healthy,” she said.

“We also recognize the benefits of the service,” Golia said. “Getting food into students late at night, having a safe place for students to come…that type of thing is really beneficial, and we want that part to continue.”

Golia and Klos stated that there is a need for supervision at Late Night, but there are questions about how that will be accomplished.

“It’s not [Tufts Dining Service’s] responsibility to deal with a very intoxicated student,” Golia said. “They’re trying to serve food to people, and a lot of times, the dining manager…has had to get involved in some pretty serious situations.”

Golia added that toward the end of last year, there were Tufts University Police Department officers who were coming into the Commons weekly to help diffuse situations.

“We will have a few [officers there] for the first few weeks this year to start the program, but we also don’t want that to be a norm,” he said. “That shouldn’t have to be.”

Kinsey Drake, a sophomore, said she is often surprised by her peers’ behavior when she visits the Commons.

“I always look at the faces of the people who are working there, and that tells me how everyone has been behaving,” Drake said.

The Office for Campus Life (OCL) hopes to raise awareness of what is considered appropriate and inappropriate behavior by flyering and creating table tents to be located in the Campus Center, Golia said.

The goal is to preserve order in the Commons so that everyone can have a place to gather and eat without damaging the equipment or disrespecting the staff, Klos said.

Not all changes to the Commons concern safety. Klos said that the Commons added new furniture and photographs on loan from the Tufts University Art Gallery. Tufts Dining has also added new menu items to the CommonsTower Café, Mugar Café and also to Hodgdon On-the-Run, which now features a changed pan-Asian concept station and new comfort food.

Klos said that it is important for students to be aware of how their actions affect themselves and those around them, particularly when interacting with Tufts Dining staff.

“There are community standards that we all want to uphold for one another without squashing fun,” she said.