Nine-hundred and fifty-nine. That’s how many days have gone by since May 2005, the month that year’s class graduated and the Darnall Hall cafeteria closed its doors for the final time. Nine-hundred and fifty-nine days. Wars have been waged in less time than that. Construction of the Empire State Building lasted barely more than a year, and the Eiffel Tower was built in two years and two months. And yet two years and six months apparently hasn’t been enough time for Georgetown administrators to refurbish a small dining hall. Bravo, guys. The most insulting part of this whole five-semester saga is the series of deadlines set for the project’s completion that have breezed by without any acknowledgement from the administrators who created them. After approving a contract with Epicurean and Co. restaurant in March 2006 – nearly a year after the dining hall first closed – administrators said they hoped to reopen that fall, but then that was pushed to the following spring, and so on, right up to Day 959, when the latest target date for completion is “later this semester,” according to a university spokesperson. In fairness, some of the factors behind the delay have been beyond the university’s control. The local Advisory Neighborhood Commission has filed a protest against Epicurean’s application for a liquor license, and the snail’s pace favored by the District of Columbia’s Alcoholic Beverage Commission means that it will probably take several months for the university to reach the end of that undoubtedly excruciating process. But a stalled liquor license is the least of the university’s problems at this point. If recent photographs taken inside the hall are any indication, construction of the new restaurant – which will purportedly include a sit-down eatery, a cafeteria and a bar – is nowhere near complete, unless Epicurean is aiming for some sort of avant-garde plywood-and-concrete design motif. The university’s Darnall dysfunction is only the most glaring example of a problem Hoyas have to live with every day: When it comes to improving dining services on campus, Georgetown administrators just can’t get their act together. Last June, Margie Bryant, the comically ineffective associate vice president for auxiliary services, authored a broadcast e-mail boasting of big changes in store for O’Donovan Dining Hall. In a press release, the university announced that under its new agreement with ARAMARK, “Leo’s will be transformed into six all-you-can-eat restaurants.” The lower level, the release proclaimed, would feature Barracas Italian Bistro, the Rolling Pin Coffee House and Leo’s Diner, “serving unlimited blue-plate specials and breakfast all day long.” But of course, there is little appreciable difference between Leo’s today and the Leo’s of last year, aside from a new pasta station and a few more Grab-n-Go options. And although the university announced last summer that major renovations to the dining hall would take place over winter break this year, none did, and none are planned. Six months after the university promised revolutionary changes to the dining hall, the food still tastes the same, the menu isn’t much larger and the crowds at mealtimes are still huge, owing to the university’s 959-day closure of the only other dining hall on campus. We’re reasonable people here on the board. We know these changes require a lot of hard work, and we don’t expect them to be fully implemented overnight. But what we can’t stand is the cynical bureaucratic culture at Georgetown under which university administrators announce deadlines they have no intention of meeting and then act like students simply won’t notice. We are baffled as to how administrators at Georgetown keep getting away with such duplicity. They promise that Darnall will close briefly for renovations, and its closure now threatens to last longer than the Kennedy administration. They promise “six all-you-can-eat restaurants” in Leo’s, and then just rearrange a few of the tables inside. Tomorrow, the earth will rotate on its axis for the 960th time since the closure of the Darnall Hall cafeteria. If the space is still closed when the Class of 2008 graduates in May – a safe bet, we’d say – then the last Georgetown students to experience the old Darnall dining hall will be gone before the new one opens. That said, we’d love to be proven wrong. So Margie, if the new Darnall opens before May 2008 – just 116 days away – we’ll buy you dinner there. We’d take you to the Barracas Italian Bistro, but for some reason, we’re still not sure where that is.

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