Op/Ed: The problem with food service lines in the JBK


Savannah Wesley

Floor stickers are one of the various ways the WTAMU is encouraging social distancing on campus.

West Texas A&M University has done very well with implementing guidelines preventing the spread of coronavirus and encouraging students to follow them, but one problem area they seem to have forgotten is food service lines in the Jack B. Kelley Student Center.

Now, I’m not talking about the lines where you wait to order. Those have neat square-shaped stickers on the floor that say “Stand Here” and “Thank you for social distancing. Please keep 6 ft. apart” and do seem to be the right amount of space apart. The addition of roping off individual lines is also helpful in mitigating the spread of the virus.

No, the problem lies in the waiting areas where students stand after they order their food. You know the spot after you order at Chick-Fil-A, next to the fountain drink dispenser? Also the laptop charging station next to the Which Wich?

These areas tend to have a lot of congestion due to the large amounts of people coming in to order and the overall din of the students chatting and moving around. The general volume of the room makes it difficult for people to hear when their name is called to pick up their order so it causes people to move closer to the pickup spot, generally throwing social distancing out of the window.

It certainly also doesn’t help that a good amount of students tend to exhibit a lack of caring whether they are being safe and social distancing. Self-responsibility seems hard to come by in our age group, at least in my experience, and when working with others. Mask wearing and social distancing are not excluded from this dilemma.

Stated under the social distancing section of WTAMU’s COVID-19 Campus Guide for Students webpage, “Keeping space between you and others is one of the best ways to avoid being exposed to the COVID- 19 virus, slowing the spread, and helping protect people who are at higher risk. Since people can spread the virus before they know they are sick, it is important to stay away from others when possible, even if you do not have symptoms. Students on campus should follow these social distancing practices:
Always stay at least six-feet (about two arm’s length) from other people.
Do not gather in informal groups of more than 10.
When gathering with others, gather outdoors when possible.
Stay out of crowded places and avoid mass gatherings.
Wear facemask/covering when not in personal offices.”

The webpage also states that “If dining on campus, you should wear a facemask/covering until you are ready to eat and then replace it after eating. On-campus dining will have markings to ensure there is at least six feet of distance between each customer. Some seating areas have been removed to ensure social distancing.”

Mind you, it takes a lot of scrolling to reach these parts of the webpage but the message is still there. The university is trying it’s hardest to make sure to keep on-campus classes alive so we don’t have to fully move online. But these efforts are hard to keep up with if we as students don’t hold ourselves responsible and properly social distance and wear our masks.

Here are my suggestions for the pickup order areas:
Add social distancing stickers on the floor in the aforementioned areas
Add a microphone and speaker system to the Chick-Fil-A and Which Wich so the workers can be heard over the general din of the JBK
Allocate a specific area of the JBK for people to stand and properly social distance if they are waiting for their food and maybe have a worker walk their food out to that area
Have someone in charge of occasionally clearing out the areas of people until we get the hang of it

Here are the recent trends in COVID-19 cases at WTAMU: