Sargent Hall cafe closed to undergrads

Law School deans clarify restrictions

Article by: Derek Anderson

The Suffolk Law School announced at the end of last month that their dining hall, along with its current restrictions on undergraduate students, will no longer accept Ram Cards and meal plans. The Ram Card ruling came into effect on March 22. Being paired with the hour restrictions set back in January, undergraduate students have been pushed out of the dining facilities.

“We have a fairly stressed situation here. We had to make this adjustment,” said Associate Dean John Deliso.

The law school dining hall had the restriction put up at the beginning of this semester due to the dining hall’s small space and limited seating. The sign outside the dining hall reads “Because of limited capacity, the dining facilities at Sargent Hall are available only to Law School Personnel, Law School Guests and Law Students, Monday through Thursday from 11:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. and 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. and Friday from 11:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.” Many students have viewed this as a “ban” of undergraduates from the dining hall.

“It’s really not a ban. That’s really an inappropriate word,” said Deliso.

Dean of Students Laura Ferrari reinforced Deliso’s statement, saying that the restrictions have “been in place since the beginning of the semester” and that they were sorry that these rules were made. “We tried hard to not do this,” said Ferrari, “but we reached a breaking point.”

Deliso said that there were “1,700 law students plus faculty” at the law school, while the dining hall only has approximately 125 to 150 seats. Out of all 1,700 students, Deliso said only three used a RamCard. The limitations on the Ram Card is what began to drive undergraduate students, but Deliso and Ferrari think it has worried work study students. “When [the restrictions] changed here, I think it confused the undergraduate work study students [at the law school],” said Deliso.

Both Deliso and Ferrari said that if an undergraduate with a work study in the law school wanted to use the dining halls, they could eat there anytime. “We never intended to restrict those students,” said Ferrari.

The large amount of undergrads eating in the din ing hall, however, has gotten law students frustrated due to the lack of space.

“Yeah, I work and getting lunch quickly is hard and irritating. There were a lot of people, and you can tell a lot of them aren’t law students,” said second year law student Anna Cometa, a Student Bar Association representative. “Plus, you have to understand that this is one of the only buildings that we’re in. Considering this is our only place to have to really be in, I feel like there should be some separation. Especially since we only have one space. If we had more space, yeah probably [undergraduates] could come in. If we could go into their buildings and eat there too, I think it would be different, but it’s not.”

Second year law student Pat Malloy says the problem is in the seating arrangements. “For the number of students we have, it’s slightly small to an appropriately sized dining hall. So, when you add in any amount extra, there isn’t enough space,” he said. “The dining staff responded pretty well. They set up extra stations to get people through the lines. There are still lines, but you move through. But then you couldn’t get a seat. That was a big issue. You could see large groups of around 10, which takes up a large segment of our seating area. There are just not a whole lot of rooms for groups. If you start taking up space, it goes pretty quickly.”

The problem was mentioned at the Trustees’ Student Affairs Committee meeting yesterday, where President David Sargent addressed the issue.

“It’s most unfortunate that [the Law School dining hall] has been deemed superior to other cafeterias,” said Sargent. He then mentioned that there was to be a new dining facility built inside 73 Tremont. “This should take some of the strain off.”

With the new policy against the Ram Cards and the meal plan, the Law School dining hall has less crowding.

“When the Ram Cards changed, that changed a lot,” said Malloy. “I haven’t noticed any problems sitting.”

The restrictions made on the dining hall seem to be permanent with the new dining hall in 73 Tremont on the way.

“We made this adjustment in January 2010, and it seems like it’s working,” said Deliso. “I think we’re comfortable with the way it’s operating.”