Over winter break, the College was hard at work making changes. Some of these are obvious, some are subtle, and some are a little confusing. Here’s an overview of the new things Swarthmore students face with the start of the new semester.
Students returning after winter break certainly noticed that Sharples Dining Hall got a new paint job. Dining Services Director Linda McDougall and her management team made the decision. The team worked with resident decorator Laurie Dibeler, also from Dining Services. McDougall said that they chose a color that they thought would be “warm and food friendly.”
In addition to the changes in interior decoration, Sharples’ kitchen invested in a new 6-foot charbroiler and grill and a new commercial 6-burner stove and convection oven combination. McDougall believes that this new equipment, an improvement over the old 3×3 portable grill that was previously used, will greatly increase the kitchen’s grilling capacity.
Finally, there have been some changes to meal times. After collaborating with the School Board, Sharples will now be opening for Sunday breakfast at 10 am. Dining services have also chosen to discontinue the practice of serving breakfast at Mary Lyons during weekdays. The Gazette wrote on this change at length last semester.
The college bookstore has a new return policy. Class textbooks and other resources purchased from the bookstore now must be returned within the first week of the add/drop period to receive a refund. This is a change that the bookstore staff has been considering for a few semesters now, and is meant to improve student access to necessary materials.
Bookstore director Kathleen Grace said, “More and more it seems that students are purchasing everything they might possibly want as early in the semester as possible. We sell more books before classes start than after, and we have more returns than sales on the last day to return books. The result is that books are pulled out of circulation for other students who need those books. And, by the time the books are returned two weeks into the semester, it is too late for the other students who wanted them.”
The bookstore hopes that this change will mean fewer returns, and that students will choose not to purchase the textbooks required for classes they may not end up taking. At the very least, the new policy will cause unused books to be returned earlier, so that students who actually need those books will have time to buy them.
With the help of a state grant, Bi-Co transportation services was able to add the second bus run entirely on compressed natural gas to its transportation fleet. Natural gas is cleaner than either gasoline or diesel, but it requires specially made vehicles to be used effectively. The Alternative Fuels Incentive Grant Program, the program that allowed the colleges to acquire this new vehicle, is a state initiative meant to promote and build new markets for advanced or renewable energy programs. The colleges received a total of $88,682, which will be put towards the incremental costs of purchasing the CNG bus and the expansion of the colleges’ CNG fueling station. The station is located on Bryn Mawr College’s Social Work Campus. The colleges plan to purchase two additional CNG utility vehicles.
Unfortunately, Swarthmore students won’t see much of this development in their day-to-day campus life. The two CNG buses only make runs between Bryn Mawr and Haverford.