As the years go by, Fredonia and its infrastructure is changing and it is changing fast. In 2014, the construction of the Science Center, a $4.2 million complex, was completed serving as the new go-to building for students with science concentrations.
In 2016, plans were being put in place to deconstruct the Spine Bridge between the Williams Center and McEwen. Cracks were creeping in and out of the structure, and students and staff were afraid that it might collapse. It was successfully deconstructed in the summer of 2016, and what remains is only a memory for students and staff alike.
The Erie Dining Hall, however, remains a far more distant memory, but only for some. Closed down in the Spring semester of 2013, it lies dormant and, to most students, it is as if Erie Hall never existed.
According to Dan Coniglio, a philosophy major who graduated with his bachelor’s degree in 2017, Erie Hall wasn’t all that special. He was around for an entire semester before it was taken down, but to him it disappeared pretty quietly.
“I didn’t personally care all too much about the place as it was merely Coca Cola and Cranston was Pepsi,” said Coniglio. “I primarily ate at Cranston just because of proximity. I lived in Chautauqua Hall, and Erie was right in the middle of Eisenhower and Disney and I think two others.”
It was similar to Cranston in that it was somewhat like a buffet, but it had its differences. According to Coniglio, “It felt more like a serve yourself kind of buffet where you made your own plates. You decided your own portions instead of having to grab another plate like you would with pizza or other options at Cranston.”
However, Coniglio added, “They did things similar to Cranston though in that each day they had a different special that varied weekly. They had ice cream that I believe was self serve but I can’t remember, but it was drastically lower in quality than Cranston with limited options.”
Even before Erie Hall was shut down, more students were buying food from Tim Hortons than they were Erie, according to FSA Executive Director Darin Schulz.
“We started to notice a trend where students were using their points at Tim Hortons to buy more food than coffee. In most cafes outside of campuses, the trend is that around 70 percent of customers get coffee and 30 percent get food. It was the complete opposite in this case. The fact that there were more students flocking to Tim Horton’s to get food than Erie Hall was very telling,” he said.
According to Schulz, Erie wasn’t all that pretty to look at either. It was very dark and seemed to be cut off from the outside. He described the place as being “old and outdated.” The lighting was dim and both the inside and outside of the building were comprised strictly of brick walls with very few windows to look out of.
As time went on and Fredonia dining services were changing, Erie Hall would grow progressively into an economic liability. The decision made in the Spring of 2013 to shut the place down, according to Schulz, was in everyone’s best interest.
“Very few people were even going to Erie Hall yet at the same time, keeping the building alive was costing students extra money out of their tuition that they weren’t even using,” said Schulz.
It was already costing students $400 out of their tuition, to which Schulz assured that all things being equal, that cost would rise to $600 today. “The only way we could have done it then,” he said, “was by raising meal plans by 12 percent, which would increase student tuition by up to $600 per year.”
Schulz stressed, however, that Erie does still serve a purpose here on campus. He said, “Although there have been a number of suggestions that have been made to utilize Erie Hall in a different way, it is of vital importance that we have Erie Hall as a fallback just in case anything should happen to our other dining centers. It will always be a dining hall, even though right now it is in stasis.”