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Ohio University’s decision to close Shively Court is predicted to save the institution about $1 million.

Thinking in Print: A Case for Reopening Shively’s Food Court

As of the fall 2020 academic year, Ohio University’s Shively Dining Court has been closed to help cut costs. One less dining court on campus may save money, but with COVID-19 cases rising in Ohio, and Athens specifically, the increased traffic in the two remaining campus dining courts provides an unsafe dining experience. 

Nelson and the District on West Green have tried to keep their courts safe for dining while allowing students to sit at the tables and serve themselves again. Automatic hand sanitizer dispensers are scattered around both courts, disposable plates and utensils are available and masks must be worn except when eating. Despite these safety precautions, social distancing is impossible to maintain during rush hour. 

If you enter Nelson during the dinner rush, expect to see large, tightly packed lines extending far past the food they are directed toward. Some lines are so long they merge with others and leave students confused on what line leads to what food station. Even walking around to see what food is available is a challenge due to the mass of students crowding the court. 

The university has placed signs in classrooms that prevent students from sitting too close to each other, yet the dining court’s tables are packed with maskless students. Nelson has opened the catering section of their dining court to increase the seating space, though the majority of students remain in the crowded main dining area.

Shively closing to save money during a time of low attendance is nothing new, as its dining court and dorms were closed for several years in the 70s. The difference between then and now is COVID-19 and the importance of social distancing. With only 64% of students on campus vaccinated as of the latest public health update and the university returning to nearly normal capacity, preventing the spread is just as important as ever!

Currently, the dining hall is being used as a testing site for COVID-19, but with plenty of space on campus, relocating to another building should not be an impossible feat.

Ohio University has taken many steps to prevent COVID-19’s spread and had success, yet its insistence on squeezing students into just two dining courts is counterproductive to keeping students safe--even if it saves a few bucks.

Reopening Shively’s dining hall will give students a third dining option that relieves Nelson and the District on West Green from having to provide space for those with mandatory and optional meal plans who do not want to take their food to go. This will reduce the chances of close contact for those on campus to keep the infection rates down and prevent another shutdown. 

Charlene Pepiot is a senior studying English at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to talk more about it? Let Charlene know by emailing her

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