The Levee, one of the main dining options for Fairfield University students, has recently been a large focus for both the Fairfield University Student Association Senate and Matthew Dinnan, vice president of auxiliary services as changes to meal swipe times and plans for renovations are in the works. 

The changes to the acceptance of meal swipes at The Levee go all the way back to September 2022 when FUSA Senators started to pay attention to the issue at the dining location. In a Sept. 28 hearing, Speaker of the Senate Steven Burns ‘24 highlighted the collaboration between FUSA and Stags Hospitality as an effort to provide students with more late-night food options. 

“The Levee doesn’t accept meal swipes past 9 p.m. but they are still open till 10 p.m,” Burns said. “Essentially if you are relying on the meal plan, which is the majority of first-years and sophomores, you can’t get a meal after 9 p.m.” 

After months of working with Stags Hospitality on a compromise agreement that resulted in additional dining time covered by meal swipes, an announcement was made during a Nov. 11 General Senate Meeting by Senator Olivia Conkling ’25, the senate chair of the Facilities, Auxiliary and Technology Committee.

 “As far as The Levee goes, apparently the meal swipe option was less about having FUSA programming in there and more about generally not having the space or enough workers to handle the amount of students in the Levee that late,” said Conkling.

She also added that the University “would consider having the Levee accept meal swipes until 9:30 p.m., so that students getting out of their late-night turbos would still have the option.”

Dinnan confirmed the meal swipe time extension at The Levee.

“One thing that can be rolled out beginning next week with the Levee was [an] extended meal plan [JNM1] swipe … extending to 9:30,” said Dinnan in a statement on Nov. 29.

In a separate statement, Jay Degioia ‘80, director of Stags Hospitality, also corroborated the efforts made by the FUSA Senators that resulted in the additional meal swipe time at The Levee.

“As part of its focus on the student experience, the University is always open to ways to enhance dining options across the campus,” Degioia said. “In partnership with the Student Senate, student meal plans were extended at The Levee.”

First-year Kevin Camy, who frequently visits The Levee, welcomed the time extension and described it as a way for students to save money during the final weeks of classes.

“It’s definitely a good idea because I know people use their dining dollars after 9 p.m. to compensate for the meal swipe,” Camy said. “More time allows them to have late-night options for when the Tully or The Stag closes, so I think it is very helpful.”

According to Senate minutes, which are available to students on the Life@Fairfield FUSA website, the meal swipe extension will not be the only upgrade The Levee will receive.

Additional upgrades will include the demolition of the existing Levee structure and the construction of a new building during the summer of 2023. This new building will include space for indoor dining on the first level and additional space for a ballroom and catering, as stated in a Sept. 28 General Senate Meeting.

According to a Sept. 28 report from the FUSA Senate Chair of the Facilities, Auxiliary and Technology Committee, Olivia Conkling ‘25 states “The Levee is planning big renovations; they want it to be five or six times the size it is now.”

 Conkling’s report to the general meeting also reflected on aspirations to make the new facility accessible to all students and community members, as the current facilities do not have the capability of being fully accessible. As part of the improvements, sidewalk connections between The Levee, McAuliffe Hall and Alumni House will be designed.

 Currently, students walk from both halls walk on a dirt and rock path that connects the on-campus restaurant to those classroom buildings near the main campus entrance. That same path is also utilized by Fairfield Prep students who go to The Levee during their lunchtime. 

 The changes to The Levee were most recently discussed during a Town Hall meeting sponsored by the Inter-Residential Housing Association on Nov. 7. It was the first occasion students learned that The Levee was scheduled to be “completely obliterated” to allow space for a new building, as Senator Tristan Lee ‘25 explained.

In an interview with The Mirror, Dinnan explained that The Levee’s expansion plan is tied to going back to its original vision of serving as a student entertainment center while approaching the increase of students using meal swipes at The Levee.

Dinnan also said that in the future, the university is oriented to “re-envision The Levee and perhaps provide a venue where there is student entertainment, gathering space, game room space and part of that is identifying with the student senate a template to best address that.”

“Now it’s about involving campus partners and Student Senate and trying to identify what the vision could be and the needs would be. This will be a few years down the road,” emphasized Dinnan while stating the importance of having the input of students at all stages of the process. 

According to Burns, the prospect of a larger space will provide added entertainment at the Levee, with construction starting in the summer of 2023, which he hopes will renew the essence of campus life.

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