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Ohio State dining halls experience overcrowding

People wait in line for their orders at Marketplace, an OSU dining facility located at 1578 Neil Ave. Credit: Shelby Lum / Photo editor

People wait in line for their orders at Marketplace, an OSU dining facility located at 1578 Neil Ave.
Credit: Shelby Lum / Photo editor

Some Ohio State dining facilities’ workers said their workplaces are being strained to keep up with the demands of a soon-to-grow on-campus population.

Lauren Tepe, a second-year in psychology who has been a student cook at Marketplace since October 2012, said it’s a challenge to ensure quality meals when dealing with mass quantities of diners.

“Marketplace can get really crazy during lunch and dinner times and the actual lunch restaurant is not built to accompany as many customers as it gets, so trying to keep up with the rush while trying to make sure everyone’s meals are well made is super tough,” Tepe said.

Jason Walker, the assistant manager at Marketplace, said the dining hall is “operating well beyond what the place was built for.”

Walker, who has worked at OSU for four years, three of which he’s spent at Marketplace, said while he’s heard the capacity of the dining hall is about 1,000 to 1,500, he estimated that Marketplace serves “two to three times that much.” Kevin Hatala, a former employee at Marketplace, said no matter how busy it was, “the managers were always really firm with upholding quality over time.”

Hatala, a second-year in nursing, worked as a student cook at Marketplace from October 2012 to the end of Fall Semester.

“It’s gotten pretty crazy, sometimes you feel like you’re holding a little book in your hand of orders,” he said.

Katie McClymonds, a student cook and cashier at the PAD, an OSU pizza service that offers a delivery option, said some people have a misconception about how some dining services works at OSU.

“A lot of people who order don’t realize how many people order (the PAD). We deliver to every residence hall and it’s not like Domino’s,” said McClymonds, a third-year in criminology who has worked at the PAD since last semester.

The PAD does not deliver pizzas individually, but instead waits for multiple orders to come in before sending its cars to North Campus or South Campus with orders from residence halls in the respective area.

Others have noticed crowding in the facilities themselves.

“We’ve been in situations before where people are standing with their plates with nowhere to sit,” said Branden Canini, a Kennedy Commons line cook who has worked there for about three years.

“We don’t want to lose quality service, but we aren’t staffed enough,” Canini said.

Canini said if sophomores move onto campus before new dining facilities on North Campus are built, Kennedy Commons would be “buried.”

Sophomores are set to be required to live on campus at the beginning of the 2016-17 school year. This requirement coincides with the North Residential District Transformation, a $370 million project that is expected to include new dining facilities on North Campus along with adding 3,200 additional student beds to residence halls.

“The planning process is very thorough in insuring that the infrastructure is in place as we plan the new residence halls,” said Office of Student Life spokesman Dave Isaacs.

Isaacs said a significant part of North District planning involves dining halls and a large-serving dining hall on North Campus might be in consideration.

Tepe said if enough facilities aren’t built, South Campus dining could suffer.

“If sophomores are going to be required to live on campus in the future, I don’t know how Marketplace will survive. Marketplace gets insanely packed already, which makes a lot of people mad. Having so many more students here could be detrimental to our customer service,” Tepe said.

Employees at other smaller dining facilities experience crowds as well.

“We get rushed because there are people on campus, freshmen to graduate students to faculty who are using our lines,” said Caitlin Hurdley, a manager at the Campus Grind cafés. Hurdley, a fourth-year in English has been working at Campus Grind since winter 2011. She said the numbers of customers often increase at times when people are getting out of class.

Canini said a more balanced dispersing of dining halls is needed, as the main locations built to serve large numbers of students are Kennedy Commons, North Commons and Union Market, while many other dining halls are mostly coffee shops.


  1. someone please count the number of coffee shops/small stops that are on campus and then compare to places for sit down meals and freshmen are still required to have meal plans whether or not they want them. marketplace gets packed because the food is better than most of south campus. i know people on north go to marketplace because of the options.

  2. I’m surprised Oxley’s was not mentioned in this article. Lines there can get so long that students are standing out the door in the cold waiting to order food. It can easily take more than a half hour to get food and there are almost never tables open to eat at. The food is good but I avoid Oxley’s at all costs because of the inconvenience.

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