By Ben Goldberger —

The University of Louisville’s roots are as a commuter school, but the administration has tried to shift the narrative to a more traditional university feel. 

New academic buildings, successful athletic programs and large scholarships make U of L attractive to out-of-state students. 

Despite these factors, there are still strong tendencies that make the school feel like a commuter school, especially to out-of-state students who are on campus all the time.

Probably the biggest factor that causes this feeling is the lack of on-campus food options during the weekend.

During the week, all 15 restaurants on the Belknap campus are open, giving students a relatively diverse menu of options to choose from. On Fridays, four of those restaurants close down at 2 p.m., and six others close an hour later.

With the cafe in the Student Recreation Center closed all day Fridays, that only leaves students with four restaurants to choose from for dinner. 

This may still seem like a lot of options, but having to choose from the same four restaurants can become very repetitive. 

“I know that our campus dining employees are already overworked, but it’s unfair that students who live on campus have such limited options to use their meal plans over the weekend, especially for those in traditional dorms who have to use a plan with very little flex points,” said sophomore Dawson Coovert.

The lack of open restaurants during the weekends encourages students to spend their time off campus, indirectly discouraging them from feeling the campus presence that the administration is trying to move toward.

“I guess it’s affected campus culture by making campus basically dead on the weekends because the only people on campus are the people who have to be there,” Coovert said.

This is especially limiting to students who do not have a car. While there are restaurants open underneath the Cardinal Towne Apartments, students cannot use the money on their meal plan to pay for that food. 

If the university is going to charge students thousands of dollars for a required meal plan, they should give the students an opportunity to actually use it on the weekends. 

Unless the student goes in and changes their meal plan before the semester, they are assigned the All Access Plan which is $2,032.

If an average meal is assumed to be $7, the students are paying for three meals a day, seven days a week for every day of the semester. By closing about 75 percent of their dining options down on the weekends, the university is inhibiting the full use of the meal plans assigned to the students. 

Also, two of the four restaurants that are open on the weekends and on Friday nights are in the SAC, and the other two are next to the University Tower Apartments. These locations are not convenient for a lot of students on campus and limit what options they have for their meals. By opening up more restaurants around campus, it allows students to have easier access to their meals for the day. 

Graphic by Shayla Kerr // The Louisville Cardinal