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On a frigid January night, the line at the Asian Pacifica section of the Commons Dining Hall stretched farther than any of the half-dozen or so themed stations. General Tso’s Chicken — a popular entrée — was back.

“The food here is a lot better than I expected. It’s a lot better than it could be,” says sophomore Trevor Williams, laying down his chopsticks while finishing his second dinner of the night.

Down the hill at Russell Sage Dining Hall, along with bins of cereal and revolving hot dogs, were such menu offerings as fusilli, pork loin, and made-to-order tortellini Alfredo. “I like it better than my home food,” says an enthusiastic senior, tucking into a plate of thick cheese lasagna and broccoli, lightly steamed a bold green.

It has been a number of years since Rensselaer students have settled for meatloaf and canned corn. The “feeding at the trough” style of dining that alumni of a certain age may remember has been replaced by specialized dishes that emphasize ethnic influences, variety, and nutritional value. Meanwhile, the traditional breakfast, lunch, and dinner have given way to all-day dining.

In the past decade, campus dining halls and the Rensselaer Union’s McNeil Room have been renovated to make them look less like traditional college dining halls and more like restaurants. Smaller retail cafés have opened in the Folsom Library, Sage Lab, and the Pittsburgh Building, serving students, faculty, and staff. Several of these venues, like the McNeil Room, also provide Internet access.

Photos:
Chris Haines ’06, who majors in electronic media, arts, and communication, enjoys lunch at the Commons.

The Commons Dining Hall, once known at the Freshman Dining Hall, was built in 1954 to accommodate the growing freshman classes.

Photos by Mark McCarty

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Rensselaer (ISSN 0898-1442) is published in March, June, September, and December by the Office of Communications.

 
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