Cafe Cathedral

The luster of the new cafeteria has worn off and some of its flaws now shine through

A+look+at+the+Cafeteria+that+is+just+over+a+year+old.

A look at the Cafeteria that is just over a year old.

The Cathedral cafeteria looks like restaurant seating. The booths and tall chairs give it the impression of an oversized local diner. Small tables and patio seating gives “customers” the opportunity to choose where they sit with a small group. The blend of different seating styles is pleasant in a modern design sort of way, breaking up the room into different shapes and sections. It sure made for a nice first impression, especially compared to the dimly lit, unfashionably arranged old cafeteria. For many students as well as myself, form can’t beat function. The layout crams seats around tables that are too small, encouraging cliques and betraying the values of good cafeteria seating. It’s time we looked at our common spaces not as fare for marketing shots, but as places for students to connect and form lifelong friendships. 

The search for a chair, while usually relatively mundane, can become infuriating for some of the last students to sit down. Senior Colin Chandler said, “I remember one time, it was in E lunch, I had to go all the way to the very corner and then bring (a chair) to the entire other side of the room and it took me a whole 10 minutes to find a seat.” Not only is the problem finding any such chair, but finding the correct height chair for the table that one is sitting at. The different table heights break up the space nicely in a still, but they vastly decrease the flexibility for the students. Combined with a lack of any considerable excess of chairs, it becomes unreasonably difficult for students to eat where they wish.

The problem is only exacerbated with the younger grades who don’t have established friend groups to turn to. Freshman Tyler Neucks said, “One big problem I see is that everyone at the big tables who have big friend groups often steal chairs from the small tables so that me and my three other friends can’t sit at a small table because there are no other chairs.” The problem is more just an annoyance. It can exclude students who couldn’t find a seat or who are stuck eating their lunch in their laps because they’re too far from the table. 

A group of 13 juniors sit at a table that is (most likely) designed for four people.

A group of junior boys in B period lunch one day epitomized the most obvious problem. “I think we need bigger tables,” Jack O’Brien said, backed up so far from the table that even COVID-19 would have trouble reaching him from the other side. Another junior at the table, Aiden Storms, said, “Everyone’s squeezing in together, chairs are back to back.” Lunch time is an important social time for many of the students on the Hill. As Senior Olivia Griffith noted, “Lunch is the only time we can sit with our friends in the school day so it’s really not fun to have to either squeeze together or separate because there’s not enough chairs.” Students deserve to be able to sit as they wish, unconstrained by inconvenient tables and under abundant chairs.

Unfortunately, the solution isn’t eye-catching or flashy. Otherwise it could have been part of the Shamrauction fundraiser. Even though the extra chairs and bigger tables would clutter the space, we should get them anyway. After all, if the image of the cafeteria is more important than its utility, then why let students sit there at all?