PLATTEVILLE, Wis. -- University of Wisconsin-Platteville soccer player Michael Prudisch gives a thumbs-up to Bridgeway Commons' Stations Dining Hall.
UW-P's newest residence hall officially opened late Thursday morning with a ceremonial ribbon-cutting that was attended by more than 200 people, including Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch.
Kleefisch spoke of UW-P's mining tradition and said it continues, as the university is "mining bright minds who become the future of a globally competitive work force from the state of Wisconsin."
Nourishing that future competitive work force is important. The university made a major change in its food service, and officials call Stations a state-of-the-art dining facility for all students that offers a wide variety of options. It replaces Glenview Commons, which was built in the mid-1960s.
"It's definitely an upgrade from Platters (the Glenview Commons dining facility)," said Prudisch, a senior from Verona. "The food is of greater quality, and the set-up is user friendly."
Sophomore Katie Chorley is looking forward to working in the dining facility.
"We have healthier choices and a lot more options," she said. "They make your food to order and personalize. It's like home: you get what you want."
Chorley lived in Rountree Commons last year.
"There's more open space," she said about Bridgeway's dining facility, "and it's bright, clean and a nice place to hang out with friends."
One of the major innovations was bringing the back-of-the-house kitchen out to the front. No walls enclose the kitchen or bakery, where all bread and pasta are baked from scratch.
"We want our students to be able to see us baking fresh bread, making sandwiches, the deli station (people) actually cutting the vegetables," said Mike Ernst, director of UW-P Dining Services. "All the raw food is all made in front of you. You get the sounds, the aromas and the action of cooking. It's really customizable. Every station has some sort of way where the student can customize their own meal, make it exactly the way they want it."
While each station in the dining facility is designed to be flexible, offering a different type of food each day, there will always be at least one station each day that offers a gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan option.
"A lot of schools will have a food court in one area and a gluten-free restaurant in another area," Ernst said. "I don't think those with special dietary needs should have to be separated from everyone else."
Ernst explained Glenview was a more typical school dining facility with a traditional buffet line. It's been "repurposed" and used for a number of different operations.
Digital menu boards at the front of the dining facility will not only show the menu for the day but also list any allergens as well as display the fat content and calories.
"I can't be more excited about this place," Ernst said. "The staff did a beautiful job and worked really hard. It's a phenomenal facility."
Today is the traditional moving-in day, but numerous students were hauling in their possessions Thursday.
Katie Rogers, a sophomore from McHenry, Ill., lived in un-air-conditioned Brockert Hall last year.
"I like it a lot better," she said. "The rooms are bigger. They're new. There's more space, and the air conditioning is a bonus. It's nice to live above the dining hall. It's very easy access."
Lindsey Decker, a freshman from Galena, Ill. majoring in elementary education, welcomed the accommodations.
"The rooms are nice and big, and it makes you feel like you're home," said Decker, a member of the UW-P volleyball team. "You don't have to go far to eat, and there are a lot of options."
Chorley, an environmental engineering major, likes the fact there's a laundry facility on each floor.
"You don't have to drag your clothes all the way to the basement," she said, adding there's a recycling bin in each room. "You can separate the plastic and paper from the other refuse. There's no excuse not to recycle."