By Reyhana Mahomed
After two years of delays, the oppidan dining hall was finally opened on the first day of term at the Kaif inside the Union building. The opening was met with mixed responses. Some oppidans were unhappy about the location and the limited menu options, but others were content with having their own dining hall.
Mthabise Ncube, a third-year BCom student, is one of the content oppidans. He said, “I find it more enjoyable to dine with fellow oppies, because at a residence dining hall you feel like an outsider.” Others, however, found the location inconvenient and preferred using residence dining halls.
In an email sent to oppidans on Tuesday, Dr Iain L’Ange, director of the residential operations division, stated that due to the great expenses of the R2 million involved in establishing the dining hall, oppidans will not be allowed to use residence dining halls.
The Kaif was chosen because it was already equipped with a kitchen and only needed minor renovations, said Keith Kachambwa, SRC Oppidan representative. In response to the complaints, Kachambwa replied, “It’s only been in function for a couple of days and maybe after this semester we can change things.” Complaints will be dealt with via email and a suggestion box will be placed in the dining hall which will address the limited meal options available. At present, the options available, are normal, halaal and vegetarian. Lindell Loubser, a third-year BCom student, says “I’m happy with the dining hall. I use it twice a week. If they get more meals, I’ll consider using it five times a week.”
A number of students were unaware of the transfer of their meal bookings to the oppie dining hall. Tulongeni Pohamba says, “I went to Smuts and my meal was unbooked so it was very embarrassing to put my tray down. There was poor notification [about the transfer.]” Another unhappy oppidan, Nabeel Ebrahim, said that they were never given a choice whether to remain in a residential dining hall or be trans-ferred to the oppidan dining hall. Kachambwa insists however that there were numerous emails sent out, forum discussions held and a survey conducted last year which came out in favour of opening the dining hall.
Kachambwa says “If people don’t respond, you have a problem.” He also added that they should get involved if they wanted to see improvement. He said that only five out of the approximately 3700 oppidans showed up for a forum discussion held on the topic.
At present, the meals cost R16 as opposed to residence dining halls’ meals which cost R12. In response to this, Kachambwa said, “It’s a recent dining hall, so it goes this way. With time it will change, It won’t be like this forever.”
“People complain that there is no unity between oppidans. The idea of having a dining hall was to have a place to eat and socialise and give oppies a form of identity,” said Kachambwa.