A new school year always brings new changes to campus buildings, and this year is no different. 

Folger Dining Hall will be closed for the 2019-20 year and turned into a student commons area, according to an Aug. 8 IUP news release.

North Dining Hall, the $17 million dining establishment that opened in August 2017, is expanding its hours from last year and will be open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Folger will be used for additional student study spaces and areas for student groups to congregate.

“This transition provides an enhanced residential dining program at North Dining while creating new student spaces,” Thomas Segar, vice president for student affairs, said in the Aug. 8 news release. “The reallocation of the Folger Hall space into a student commons reflects our commitment to enhancing the spirit of community and offering new opportunities for students to learn, engage and build community, which all contribute to student success.”

Taking Folger out of the equation for on-campus dining options limits students’ convenient food choices.

Folger was one of two dining halls where students could pay one meal swipe ($5.43) and eat as much buffet-styled food as they wanted. Now, North will be the only dining hall open for students across campus. 

 “I think it puts students at a disadvantage for dining options costing only one meal swipe,” Sara Keller (junior, criminology) said. “However, with North extending its hours, hopefully students will still be fine.” 

Some students aren’t too upset about the dining hall’s closing but acknowledge distance may be a negative factor for some of the students who lived closer

to Folger. 

“I am not too upset because I never really went to Folger due to the lack of variety,” Dani Wade (senior, international business) said, “but I think it’s inconvenient for students, especially the ones farther away from North.” 

While students in Northern and Wallwork are at a huge advantage in this arrangement, students in farther residence halls like Stephenson don’t have that same dining option.

“I feel as if our options are extremely limited now,” Anita Morrison (senior, early childhood/special education) said. “Even though Folger wasn’t open for dinner last year during the week, it was still an option for lunch and breakfast. 

“Now, if I want food, I’ll have to go all the way to North, and that can be inconvenient sometimes. It doesn’t seem fair to those of us who pay for a meal plan on campus. If they are shutting down places, they should also lower the cost we are paying for food.” 

University officials, on the other hand, seem positive that North can accommodate for the loss of Folger as a dining hall.

“North Dining is centrally located and is definitely a centerpiece for the campus,” Sondra Dennison, executive director of the Office of Housing, Residential Living, and Dining, said in the Aug. 8 news release. “It has been extremely popular with students and employees, especially with our commuter students. Student comments and student surveys had consistent requests for increased hours at North Dining, and we are very happy to be able to meet these requests starting in the fall. 

“We feel confident we will be able to meet the needs and wants of our diners.”

North will include the True Balance allergen station that Folger had, so customers with food allergies and gluten intolerances still have options. And stations in food courts around campus will be updated with on-trend foods and grab-and-go options.

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