Lee, a sophomore in pre-med, along with many other Ferris students, is frustrated when high school students, or “white-baggers,” come visit the campus and take up seats in the dining halls.
“They only seem to come when I’m in a hurry. It’s really upsetting. I think they should warn people before the white-baggers come,” said Lee.
She also said by the time she finds a seat in the crowded dining hall, she ends up having to leave.
“It’s a real issue,” Lee said.
Katie Rivard, a Ferris pharmacy student, has also had issues with finding a seat and having time to eat her lunch.
“I never have enough time to get food and eat lunch before running to class because of the ‘white-baggers’ because there are so many of them and they don’t know where anything is,” Rivard said.
In addition, she said they mess up the flow of things and get in everybody’s way.
“I feel like the students who pay to go to Ferris should get priority,” Rivard said.
Lori Helmer, director of dining services, is aware of students’ concerns.
“We have noticed that one of the most difficult days and/or times to find seating is on Dawg Days. The University’s future, our potential student recruits, are represented in these admissions groups. These groups are essential,” said Helmer.
Helmer said there are 350 seats at Westview Dining and an additional 200 seats in Quiznos. The Rock Café has an additional 50 seats available on the outdoor patio. The maximum number of guests/customers that are served for lunch at Westview is about 127 – this is over a five hour time period.
The maximum number of guests/customers served for either lunch or dinner at The Rock Café is about 1600; this is over the same five hour time period.
“The management team at Westview keeps a close eye on the seating situation. They open the door to Quiznos for access to the additional 200 seats there whenever needed,” said Helmer.
The issue has been an on-going one as well. Even former Ferris students remember the frustration.
“When I was going to Ferris, the high school students got priority over us,” said Heather Foley, a 2010 graduate in English education.
Foley said the high school students take a long time while standing in line, making it unfair for current students.
“They always came right at lunch and when you only have an hour break to eat and go to your next class and you can’t sit anywhere,” said Foley.
Helmer said Ferris is a public institution, which accounts for the reason the dining halls are available to students, faculty and staff, potential recruits, and the general public.
“The Department of Dining Service Enterprises is a self funded department, meaning that we receive all of our revenue from meal plans, interdepartmental charges, cash and credit card sales. We do not receive any funding from the State of Michigan or the University general fund,” Helmer said. n