Peirce Hall. Via Twitter.
Paying for Peirce is required. There is no optional meal plan, which is a boon for some students and a burden for others. Perhaps there is the big spender who scrounges goods from the Market, Wiggin Street, Wal-Mart, or Kroger like a ground squirrel, but sooner or later everyone eats in Peirce.
So what is the current state of our beloved mothership that blesses us with copious scones and the beloved fries of sweet potato?
If you walk due north of the servery, you will find a staircase that leads to the Alumni Dining Room.
Down those stairs is a long hallway, at the end of which is a room illumined by the carmine glow of the EXIT sign. Ask for Kim Novak, the resident director of AVI and sage of all things Peirce.
According to Novak, one significant new development at Peirce is the addition of student positions in the kitchen. A recent Collegian op-ed piece outlined some frustrations and concerns that plague Kenyon students. They did not go unheard, and Kim Novak is here to answer our grievances.
About 10 students will work in 3 to 4-hour shifts in Peirce plating food and setting it out for students to take. This new position will address the issue of long lines. Currently, Peirce chefs (often one person at a time) must make the food, plate it, and set it out, which significantly slows the rate at which students can take their meals. According to Jack Quigley ’16, chair of the Housing and Dining Committee, so far three Mount Vernon High School students and one Kenyon student have started this position. This job will pay $10 per hour, Novak said. Since AVI is a union operation, students will work union-supported positions rather than working as union members.
Students can apply for this position through the CDO, or come to Novak’s office in Lower Peirce and fill out an application.
Students might find other perks besides a fatter wallet. Novak said the job could even be an escape from the mental rigor of the day, since,
“It’s a job where you don’t have to worry about the strategy or the philosophy. It’s a job to come and get away for a little while and just be physical.”
Novak also believes this job will increase communication between Peirce and the students. While we express daily our love for our mothership on Facebook, students working in the kitchen can more directly tell staff their opinions of the food.
But why offer students these positions behind the lines now?
Novak chalks it up to the steady rise in student population over the last five years, which is due in part to Kenyon’s acceptance of its largest incoming class in history this past year.
Phoebe Roe ’16, former chair of Housing and Dining and current Student Council President, agreed that the larger student population contributes to the need for student positions. She also commented that first years are more likely to eat at Peirce than upperclassmen who might live in apartments with private kitchens.
BUT THAT’S NOT ALL.
R.I.P. Peanut Butter next to International. I know, it was a shock for us all, and now I need to walk a whole extra ~30 feet to get my daily serving of gloppy legume-based protein, cholesterol, and saturated fat (boo-hoo).
Novak has big plans for that former peanut butter island.
The “cold well,” as it’s called, will be turned into a hot well where food can be kept warm. It will heat pasta, rice, or vegetables so students can help themselves to these sides while they wait in line for main courses. Novak said it will take a month or two before the cold wells are converted (she’s looking to put in a couple, and they might appear next semester), but it will be worth the wait.
“If students aren’t happy, then we haven’t done our job,” Novak said.
Roe also mentioned a new initiative, the Cups Movement (not to be confused with Crozier’s promotion of Diva Cups). Peirce will collect donated ceramic mugs from students and the community. Students will then be able to carry out these mugs and then bring them back to Peirce where AVI staff will wash them. This idea comes from other schools who have adopted this moment as a sustainability initiative. Of course, students might break these mugs at some point, but since they all come from donations, not much will be lost.
Novak, Quigley, and Roe all had one statement in common. They all urged that our marvelous mothership and food-mama, Peirce, is open to all suggestions from students.
“I don’t think students always realize how willing Peirce is to accommodate you,” Roe said.
Students can reach out to Housing and Dining at firstname.lastname@example.org with comments, complaints, or suggestions – or students can reach out to the chefs directly.
Remember kids, Peirce is love. Peirce is life.
See you all at breakfast!