MSA pushes to extend dining for finals

A resolution pushes UDS to open dining halls for breakfast during spring finals week.

by Blair Emerson

The Minnesota Student Association unanimously passed a resolution Wednesday urging the University of Minnesota’s University Dining Services to open all campus restaurants and dining halls as early as 6 a.m. Saturday during finals week.

Final exams are scheduled Saturday, May 17, starting at 8 a.m. this semester, but no UDS locations will be open early enough for students to eat before their tests. Research has shown that breakfast boosts academic performance, so MSA’s resolution wants UDS to provide an option for early-morning meals.

For many students living on campus, dining halls may be their only option for meals.

“We don’t have easy access to kitchens or grocery stores,” said Sean Condon, a freshman living in Sanford Hall. “We rely on the dorms a lot.”

Management senior Jenna Mrozinski said dining halls are her main source of food, so she wants them to open earlier.

“They open at 11, and a lot of people have other things going on before 11,” she said.

Family medicine and community health associate professor Susie Nanney said food plays a crucial role in students’ cognitive performance.

Nanney is leading a study at the University called Project Breakfast, which started in fall 2012. The project has partnered with 16 rural Minnesota high schools to find alternative breakfast options, including more on-the-go items offered later in the morning.

The schools involved in the project send letters home to parents encouraging them to have their children eat breakfast on exam days, she said.

Even at the college level, Nanney said, the same rules apply, and breakfast is just as important for performance.

“I applaud [MSA] for taking such a proactive supportive role in the academic environment of students,” she said.

MSA’s Ranking Representative to the Board of Regents Joelle Stangler said the student association has received positive feedback from UDS.

UDS officials could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Though no changes to dining hall hours are certain, Stangler said UDS told MSA they want to know how many students support the resolution and would be affected by it.

“There’s a lot of students who really agree that this is something that is important,” she said.

Stangler said MSA plans to submit its resolution to UDS in the next two weeks with the goal of extending dining hall hours by this semester’s finals week.

“If you live in a residence hall, you should be expected to get food before your test that day,” said Ryan Olson, MSA’s Ranking Representative to the Student Senate Consultative Committee, at the meeting Tuesday.