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Over winter break, Dining Services added new furniture to Ferris Booth Hall to increase space and capacity. Vicki Dunn, executive director of dining services, said Thursday that a summer renovation plan includes a new staircase.

Major changes could be coming to Ferris Booth Commons this summer, including a new staircase and reorganized serving areas, Executive Director of Dining Services Vicki Dunn said Thursday.

Students already got a taste of the changes this week with the new tables and chairs installed over winter break. Now, Barnard students can swipe in before 10 a.m.—as can Columbia students into Hewitt in the mornings.

“We haven't put our full summer plan together, but one of the things that's within our summer plan is the stairway,” Dunn said. “It's not as easy.”

A change to Ferris' spiral staircase—perennially a complaint of students for being too narrow—would be welcome, most students said.

But Dunn said there were still many unanswered questions about the stairs renovation, like finding a suitable new staircase structure and the effect of the renovation on the number of students Ferris can accommodate. 

Another future plan is reorganizing the pizza, pasta, and food made-to-order lines, she said.

The winter break renovation increased the dining hall's total capacity from 222 to 254. Dunn said additional tables will be added in the coming weeks to accommodate up to 279 students.

Part of the reason for the change was to help accommodate Barnard students, who can now swipe into breakfast at Ferris as part of the trial agreement between Barnard and Columbia Dining.

“Not only can Barnard students now eat breakfast at Ferris, but Columbia students are able to eat breakfast at Hewitt,” Al Sorbera, director of dining services at Barnard, said. “These new dining options are being offered on a trial basis, as a result of a collaborative decision by both schools to provide students with more flexibility and variety. We look forward to student feedback.”

Barnard students said the previous morning swipe restriction was inconvenient, and are glad they can finally swipe into Ferris in the morning.

“It's more convenient to eat breakfast on that side,” Alexa Arboleda, BC '16, said. “Sometimes I eat breakfast with Columbia friends.”

Students also said they were happy with the new layout, which includes long tables along the windows.

Pooja Deshpande, CC '16, said that the new tables make it easier for large groups of friends to find seats.

“I remember warring with people for long tables,” she said.

“People by the benches get in and out faster,” Leonardo Abbrescia, SEAS '15, said.

Dunn said that she had heard positive feedback from students so far.

“You see space, and you're not used to seeing space,” Dunn said. “I've talked to students, and they seem to really enjoy it—especially the bar seats around. They like to look over the campus.”

Most students will probably be more excited by the potential changes to the staircase than the new tables.

“Why didn't they change the staircase though? I spilled soup on myself,” Libby Styles, CC '17, said.  |  @ezactron

Dining Ferris Booth Commons Vicki Dunn food and drink renovations
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