By Teresa Pavia | May 11, 2021
Renovations at Indigenous Quad
Over the past year, in response to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, on-campus dining has been limited for UAlbany students. With a rapidly changing situation and new updates regarding the university’s reopening plans, here is what you can expect going into Fall 2021.
While this year on campus dining has exclusively been in the Campus Center, residence dining halls on State and Indigenous Quads are scheduled to open next semester, with newly constructed features.
“While the dining halls have been closed, we’ve been trying to make a little lemonade out of lemons,” said Executive Director of University Auxiliary Services Stephen Pearse. “We’ve had an additional refresh at State, with new booths and new paint...and at Indigenous Quad, the whole serving area is being redone with new flooring, new counters, new paint, new tiles, and we are also building a dessert cafe in Indigneous similar to what it was at State because it was so popular.”
Though residence dining halls will be open, some adjustments may be made in order to meet COVID-19 safety guidelines. Self-serve stations such as salad bars and pizza stations will potentially be served by staff in order to limit contact. Pearse stated, “In the past salad bars have been self-service, so in order to facilitate having a salad bar, we may have to place a Sodexo employee behind the line, as opposed to every student going and touching the tongs.”
As of right now, residence dining hall occupancy rates and meal plans are subject to change as pandemic restrictions and social distancing rules continue to develop. Pearse stated, “Right now, there will still be the Great Dane Plan where there is the time frame for breakfast, lunch, and dinner...if things continue on their current trend and occupancy rates continue to go up, then we really hope that we can go back to the unlimited plan where you can come and go as often as you want.”
The ID Card Office of the University Auxiliary Services has also recently just notified students in an email saying that, “Discount Dollars remaining at the end of the Spring 2021 term will roll over to the Fall 2021-Spring 2022 academic year” as part of a COVID relief initiative.
UAlbany Dining had also introduced a number of new features in the Campus Center this year in order to give students a larger variety of affordable meal options, such as Purple Plate, which serves residence dining hall-style food. With the reopening of the Indigenous and State Quad dining halls, Purple Plate will likely be replaced by StarGinger, the Campus Center’s Asian food venue.
UAlbany students may or may not remember the various venues the Campus Center had in years prior, including Star Ginger, as well as Al Dente and Tres Habaneros, that were closed this year regarding concerns about the high concentration of staff and students in those areas. While the situation remains tentative, Pearse stated that, “We are anticipating getting all of the venues back up and running...we want to try to make sure that we are presenting venues and concepts that are the best for our students, and what makes the most sense.”
Additionally, students upset about Damien’s closing will be happy to know it is set to open next fall with mainstays like chicken tenders and wings.
This year UAlbany also introduced the GoMobile app, which allows students to place online orders to avoid coming into contact, especially as they are waiting in line for Starbucks. The GoMobile app will still be available next year, though ordering at Starbucks will likely follow a hybrid model of both in person and online ordering.
Campus plans for Fall 2021 currently state that masks must be worn inside buildings, while social distancing and occupancy rate rules will continue to follow the state, federal, CDC, and local Albany County safety guidelines. Pearse stated that, “Underneath all of this, safety is of paramount importance.”
Please note that COVID safety guidelines are changing rapidly, and that plans are subject to be altered as the situation develops.