It’s 6 p.m. on a Thursday. High school students in suits surround the doors of the Arrillaga Family Dining Commons–business conference attendeess.
Inside the building, the stairs are crammed with students dodging dozens of summer campers traveling up and down. The line extends down the stairs, but today is not as bad as when it extends outside or wraps around to Escondido Road. As I move farther up the line, a whiteboard with a colorfully written schedule on it becomes visible: eight summer programs are scheduled to dine at Arrillaga between 5 p.m. and 6:15 p.m.
With most dining halls reserved for summer conferences or closed for renovations, Arrillaga is the only dining hall open to students, faculty and staff this summer. With The Axe and Palm closed, Olives staying open for shorter hours and Lagunita Dining only serving students living in certain residences, students are left with limited summer dining options.
Once through the crowd, I swipe through, only to be met with many shorter lines to brave. In the background of a loud sea of voices, I hear dishes fall to the floor. Lines form up behind the silverware, the drink machine and the frozen yogurt, and even French fries require a wait.
After finally getting my food, I meet the next obstacle: seating. High school students fill the tables, with the occasional Stanford student scattered about. A girl passes me, complaining to her friend that there is nowhere to sit. I look around and see she’s right. I check outside on the balcony, with no luck. I take a peek at the other side of the dining hall. Also full. Finally, someone gets up to leave, and I take his spot.
“It’s super crowded and they run out of food quickly,” said Jessica Waldman ’15. “I’m spending my whole paycheck on this meal plan, but the place is being taken over by high schoolers.”
Despite Waldman’s complaints, all students living in campus residences other than Mirrielees are required to purchase a Stanford meal plan, costing from $1,583 to $1,774 for the 10-week summer session. With Arrillaga as one of the few dining options on campus, students are forced to put up with the crowded atmosphere.
“I usually try to come around 7:30 to avoid all of the kids,” said Jon Riel M.S. ’12.
Although several dining halls are serving participants of summer conferences, Arrillaga accommodates an overwhelming number of the summer program attendees. Ten programs are often scheduled to eat at Arrillaga in one 90-minute time window. As a result, there is little room for Stanford’s students, who have few other places to eat.
“It was not this crazy during the school year. Now it is frustrating just to try to eat,” said Amy Engler ’13.
Stanford Residential and Dining Enterprises declined to comment on the number of students or the crowds, instead saying responses to questions would take 7-10 days.