More seating options are needed on campus

By Elijah Nevlin

Picture yourself in Cranberry’s during lunch hours. You order your favorite food: a burrito from Sono’s. You look to find a seat, a beautiful open booth and sit down to enjoy a meal with your friends.

Just kidding, Cranberry’s is full. Instead, you go outside and enjoy the fresh air at an outdoor seat. Still kidding, those seats are pushed aside. You then walk to Sweigart Hall to sit outside Saxbys. Again, kidding. Those seats are full too. Next, you trek across campus to the Student Recreation Center. Surely there are available seats, right? 

Wrong, the SRC is full of people and the only tables available sit two people at most. At this point you give up, you and your friends stand around for a while waiting for somebody to give up one of their tables so you can finally enjoy a meal.

The previous sequence of events may have been exaggerated for dramatic effect, but I think every Rider student can relate in some way or another. It is often difficult to find an open table on campus, especially during these colder months when outdoor seating is scaled back.

The recent weather has been tumultuous and inconsistent. In between the snowy days and strong gusts of wind, there have been some nice days where I enjoyed being outside, and where I may have wanted to enjoy my meals in the winter air. 

While I understand that there is only so much space inside of Cranberry’s, the lack of outdoor seating has never made sense. While one could argue that the current positioning of the patio is due to the turbulent weather, it does not explain the empty balcony space that overlooks the patio.

Within the last year we have seen the addition of new seating on the balcony: some stools and couches. There are a few problems with this area, however. For one, the couch cushions absorb a lot of water, and do not seem to ever dry. Any time I sit on the patio couches, I elect to remove the cushions to avoid sitting on what is essentially a giant wet sponge.

The second problem is that the couches all face each other. Instead of individual areas to bring a rationally-sized group of people, there are enough couches for a crowd of 20. It feels awkward to see somebody in that corner and wish to sit there too, even though there is room. At times it feels invasive to share the area with fellow students.

Another area on campus with a similar problem is the patio in front of Lynch Adler Hall. During my first year at Rider, there was a tent in this area with a lot of covered seating. This was amazing, because even when the weather was harsh there was still a comfortable way to enjoy fresh air. However, this tent is no longer there.

While some chairs and tables remain in the area, they are pushed to the perimeter of the patio. The area in front of Lynch Adler Hall is such prime real estate, and it could easily feel full of life if these tables were spread out better. Instead, the area feels empty and lonely despite having multiple seating options. 

When outdoor seating is insufficient, people look toward academic buildings for a place to lounge. These places fill up fast, simply because there is not infinite space inside these buildings. 

It’s important to have adequate outdoor and indoor space for students to gather comfortably.

While things are not perfect now, Rider is improving its outdoor seating. The previously mentioned Bart Luedeke Center patio couches are a great addition to campus, and the recently built hammocks and picnic tables near dorm buildings are amazing. There have also been indoor spaces added, too, such as the Zen Den. I hope to see more improvements like this, so that comfortable seating is easy to find at Rider.

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