Students have adapted to the new norm for on-campus dining: takeout boxes, pre-packaged food and contactless service.
Market Square, once a bustling area with students coming and going from multiple directions, is now more structured.
Students can only enter through the doors by Samuelson Hall and there are regulations to manage traffic flow inside.
Signs are taped on top of tables designating the number of students who can sit there. Students are no longer allowed to refill reusable water bottles at drink stations, and hand sanitizer dispensers and regulatory signs are placed prominently at entrances and exits.
One month into the school year, students are now forming their opinions on TCU’s “touchless dining experience.”
“It’a pretty normal I think, but a little odd. You just have to be super cautious about things,” said first-year Madeline Kirke.
As the staff produces large quantities of consistent food, it is a challenge to change recipes to accommodate individual allergies.
While King Family Commons houses Magnolia’s, TCU’s allergy-friendly food supplier, Market Square does not have the same capacity to create multiple menus for students with dietary restrictions.
Menus for the BLUU are posted online and also listed overhead at individual stations. However, students often walk to the front to look at the food as some have realized the menus are inaccurate.
Staff members serving the food face the additional challenge of understanding student requests in the busy area. Communication between students and staff is especially difficult as all students are required to wear masks indoors when not eating or drinking.
“There are people standing around the dining hall, so as soon as you get up they can wipe down down your table. They stare at you like vultures,” said Kirke.
During lunch and dinner rushes, students struggle to maintain social distancing as lines pile up in front of certain stations.
This trend carries over into the BLUU’s seating areas.
Many students sit together in close proximity without masks on while they eat their meals. Students will put on their masks for the short walk to the trash can before returning to a table and removing them again.
Despite any adjustments, Kirke described the BLUU as having a lot of options even with all the precautions.