An Ethnographic Study on the Population That Goes to Terrance Dining Room

For two days I constructed an ethnographic study in the Terrance Dining Room, the only dining hall on campus. I’m pretty sure you all know how it looks and have been there several times. A brief overview, it is kind of split into two sections. There is a section that’s mostly reserved for hot food, and another on the other side of the entrance that is reserved for mostly cold or room temperature food. Hot food consists of custom omelets, chicken, burgers, hot dogs, and different special foods that vary daily. On the other side there’s cold and room temperature deserts as well as healthy fruits and vegetables. On both sides there are vending machines for drinks, and a downstairs and upstairs area consisting of seats and tables.

I’m sophomore, and since I’ve attended AU it has seemed clear to me that TDR isn’t the most favored place to eat at in the eyes of many students. When I do go to TDR, depending on the time of day, it is usually packed with people. This obviously contradicts the idea that people aren’t really favorable of it. So I came up with a goal to identify whether people mostly go to TDR only because it is on campus and convenient, whether it’s because it offers the most value for a meal swipe, or simply to socialize with their friends.

I observed for an hour; one around 9am and another around 12pm. Both on different days. During my time spent observing in the morning I found that the dining hall was not too crowded. People were going in and out. Most people would arrive by themselves and eat alone, usually spending between 10 and 15 minutes eating, unoccupied. These same people would get on serving and then leave after finishing. Contrarily, some people did come with their friends in relatively small groups. As always TDR, the breakfast food started getting put away around 10am, yet this was when more people actually started to arrive.

On the hot side, which is where I focused most of my observation, the line for custom omelets would began to grow increasingly around 10am. Throughout the entire hour, people did go for the hot food such as eggs, sausage, pancakes, fries, and fruit. From this study I took away that people actually attended TDR for in the morning out of convenience. Not many people would get multiple servings or plates of food, and like I said there were many people alone in the morning. This leans more toward the idea that people may not be there entirely for the quality of the food, and not to socialize, but go because it’s a convenient place to eat at on campus that only costs a meal swipe. When I recorded the time at TDR around 12pm, I found that many people with groups of friends.

This hour was very busy and the dining hall grew filled with plenty of students. I found that most people who came with their friends spent up to 20 minutes talking and eating. They tended to get at most 2 servings of food. Some people arrived by their selves, also staying for 20 minutes. These same students were either occupied by their electronic devices such as phones and laptops, or ate while simultaneously working in notebooks. All of the attendees are students; no professors or adults. The only adults are TDR workers. Overall, this specific hour consisted of mostly groups of students who spent a lot of time talking to each other while eating.

Based on both of my studies, it seems that most people attend TDR with either their friends and by their selves. Not many got more than 2 servings, and most stayed up to 20 minutes. This isn’t enough evidence to make a concrete conclusion; yet, at least, it seems that people attend TDR because of its social and spatial convenience. It allows people to eat and talk with their school friends, as well as work on school work and eat. Not many people spend 20 minutes in the dining hall, or get many servings. Of course there are other several other variables that cause this, but it’s definitely likely that people because of TDR’s social and spatial benefits apart from its quality and low abundance of food.

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