Different factors decide UT-Austin dining hall hours

Neelam Bohra

Students living on the north side of campus, such as in Kinsolving and Whitis Court, have complained about limited dining hall hours, but these hours have not been changed.

Director of dining Rene Rodriguez said foot traffic determines how long the dining halls stay open. According to a recent dining hall report, around 10 percent of Kinsolving Dining customers arrive between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m., with the exception of Monday. This is higher than the 3-7 percent of customers who arrive between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m., but the dining halls stay open during these hours. Rodriguez said they stay open during these times because it is easier for employees to work continuous shifts. 

“If 20 percent of customers were there, if we were higher up in numbers, we might keep these locations open during later hours,” Rodriguez said. “But, we consider real amounts to be double-digit numbers, and those percentages are not in the double digits.”

Rodriguez said dining hall employees work two shifts. An extra hour to keep Kinsolving open until 9 p.m. would add a third shift, he said. Extending dining hall hours would be difficult because employees rely on public transportation, and buses stop running after 10 p.m., Rodriguez said.

“It’s not just the hours that we’re open,” Rodriguez said. “We have to adjust for (two) hours of cleaning. Plus, if we added a third shift, we would have to charge students more for food. It’s a balancing act.” 

Rodriguez said different situations allow for locations such as Jester City Limits to stay open until 11 p.m.

“It’s a little bit easier because we’re cooking on demand,” Rodriguez said. “We’re not cooking for masses in an all-you-can-eat situation. In that situation, we have to forecast how many people are going to come in. But, in an on-demand situation, we can handle a smaller amount of people.”

Public health sophomore Esme Anaab lives in Kinsolving and said she usually doesn’t have time to eat because her work schedule conflicts with dining hall hours. 

“As soon as I get off work, I can’t eat dinner unless I eat really early, and then I would go hungry,” Anaab said. “I feel like it’s fair to give kids an opportunity to get food, especially if they don’t want to spend outside money.”

Aerospace engineering freshman Lakshmi Paluri said she could work to make the hours work for her.

“The hours are not the most convenient,” Paluri said. “But I could definitely manage it better. It’s just something I have to get used to.”