University Village and Dining Commons Shut Down

Mandy Chen, Staff Writer

How Will This Affect Students?

Circa Summer 2022, University Village has been shut down. Meanwhile, the Dining Commons is undergoing renovation to prepare for the upcoming Fall 2022 term. With both vital locations shuttered, how are on-campus resident students faring?

The closure of University Village — while a boisterous headline — is not displacing students, according to Mark Almeida, Vice President for Student Affairs, as there is enough capacity for students within on-campus dormitories and no waitlist. Almeida explained that the master lease agreement between California State University, East Bay, and the private building owner expired in mid-July, stating, “The reason [the UV lease] is not being renewed is that housing demand has changed due to COVID.” Further, Almeida cited a housing feasibility study as another reason for the lease termination, intended on bringing the focus back on university housing.

The consensus among students and former UV residents remains mixed, however, with some voicing discontent over the school’s choice to vacate the space. “The UV shutting down has led to the cramming and compacting of more students into one dorm, which can lead to more messes, cattiness, or disagreements,” said California State University, East Bay student Jerica Smith. In her view, “the situation is forcing people to move off-campus,” adding that for students who opt to move into the school dormitories, “it’s suffocating having to live with so many people [and that] it’s hard keeping track of who’s supposed to clean up after themselves.”

Further, Smith expressed concern over the lack of choice in living arrangements, since students may not always choose where they want to go. While some people may want to live on the hill, their preference is not exactly taken into consideration, Smith argued.

In regards to the Dining Commons renovation, the building is two years overdue. Almeida clarified that the DC undergoes revitalization every 10 years, although the scheduled 2020 repairs were postponed in lieu of the pandemic.

Incoming Fall students can expect cosmetic changes and improved cafeteria functionality. Familiar round tables and wooden chairs are replaced by booths and long tables as cafeteria furniture approaches its decade of service. Alongside more seating space and new decor, Almeida mentioned an updated color palette to “make the space more vibrant,” as well as additional amenities, such as a breakfast nook, beverage station, and sliding doors at the entrance. The improved cafeteria plan attempts to emulate the micro market experience by adding more private space to an otherwise expansive hall, which Almeida hopes will enable more opportunities for students to make connections. “The serving area will actually be connected to the seating area so walls are being knocked down. It is meant to feel like the Market in the University Union,” Almeida stated.

The ongoing renovation project was not initiated by policy or regulations, Almeida said: “Space needs to be updated with the ever-changing needs of our students.”

In support of Almeida’s statement, student reception has, thus far, been positive. “[DC renovation] is very much needed,” Smith commented, praising the new outline of the dining space: “The old [outline] has to go. It wasn’t giving what it was supposed to give. It had too much of a cafeteria vibe and seemed outdated.”

Along with the interior redesign, Smith hopes that food options would be updated, as she is tired of eating from the same selection. “Students are going to DoorDash or off campus and [the school food vendors] are going to lose their customers,” Smith warned.

Nevertheless, Smith is excited about the new food places that will be taking over, such as Fry Shack and Create. According to an email sent out to the CSUEB community, during the spring semester, Fry Shack is serving “burgers, chicken, fries, and shakes” while Create is offering “sandwiches, salads, and wraps” in place of Taco Bell and Subway, respectively.

While the campus anticipates the grand reopening of the DC, Summer 2022 students may dine at Panda Express, Starbucks, and the Market, although dining options may vary from term to term. The DC may not be open every summer semester, but there will always be three vendors available on-campus. Conference groups on campus can order from a caterer.

For the inconvenient changes now, the student body will be met with a polished and freshly redesigned Dining Commons come time for Fall.