Gourmet with Gavin: A Dining Hall Debacle: Student Culture Perseveres Through COVID-19

Gavin Anderson '22, Columnist

Food has always brought the Loomis Chaffee community together, and in a time where togetherness is arbitrary, the school is still trying to maintain its sense of community and culture. As meal-time has long been a central aspect to community building, the dining hall practices have been one of the most talked-about new policies amidst the backdrop of this unprecedented year. Plexiglass cubicles, tents, and a refurbished student center now have the titles of “designated eating locations,” each with a new makeover. So where are students eating while maintaining their distance?

The Pelicans’ campus had pleasant September weather, which allowed for eating and catching up with friends outside. A white tent occupies a spot of land right outside the Katharine Brush Library, and it will be frequented by students as long as the weather permits. Though students must wear masks when not eating and remain appropriately distanced from each other, typical dining hall activities like laughter and homework still prevail.

Additionally, the dining hall started the year adorned with new plexiglass dividers, which allow students to eat with one another. Due to limited space in the tent, this option usually holds much of the student body. Though rushed 8 AM teamwork sessions have been pushed to the library, communication in the dining hall is at least still possible through the glass. Admittedly, collaborative studying over coffee and dining hall bagels is probably missed dearly by many members of the student body, as it was certainly a part of the “we’ll get through this together” mentality.

Being all together on campus physically, while still remaining isolated, posed a challenge to the student body. It was in their hands to dictate if the school’s infectious energy would return this year. COVID-19 may have challenged the Pelican spirit, but with earnest effort, the student body has clawed its way back.

In the end, the fall of 2020 looks very different, and student interaction is no exception. The plexiglass dividers and the plastic tents that had drawn many weary eyes on the first day back may have saved that “infectious” LC spirit that gets students excited to return each year.