Covel Commons Residential Restaurant will close during spring quarter for renovations, causing concern among Muslim students over the closure of the only dining hall with halal options.
The first phase of construction renovation at Covel took place over the summer, and the second phase is scheduled for spring quarter. UCLA Dining Services plans to reopen the dining hall for fall 2020, meaning Covel will be closed for over six months.
Katherine Alvarado, a UCLA spokesperson, cited growing enrollment as a reason for the renovation in an emailed statement.
“With enrollment growth and demand for housing, it’s important to maintain and upgrade our facilities to meet the needs of a modern research university,” the statement reads.
To address this growth, UCLA Dining plans on updating the interior guest space in Covel as well as the kitchen space. Covel is the only dining hall that provides prepackaged meals for students who follow halal dietary restrictions, meaning they eat foods prepared in accordance with Islamic law.
UCLA Dining plans to move these meals from Covel to De Neve Residential Restaurant in order to meet the needs of Muslim students during this closure.
This closure is of particular concern to Muslim students, such as second-year history student Hamza Mirza, who said he was skeptical about whether or not the renovation would improve his dining experience.
“I don’t think necessarily that the renovations will help,” Mirza said. “But I think if (UCLA Dining) can use that time during the renovation to actually plan going forward how to provide more consistent halal options, that might be a good way to use that time.”
Mirza added that while he appreciates UCLA’s efforts to accommodate the needs of Muslim students, he said the university could improve by providing halal options in other dining halls on a more consistent basis and by ensuring that Covel doesn’t run out of the more popular items on busy days.
“As Muslim students, we are really appreciative that UCLA tries to accommodate us, but we would like to see some more consistency so that it’s a little easier to get through the day,” Mirza said.
Hanaan Osman, president of the Muslim Student Association, said the organization could not yet comment on how Covel’s closure would impact Muslim students, as MSA is still discussing the issue with UCLA Dining.
Reactions to Covel’s closure are mixed for the wider student body, with some seeing the renovation as a positive update to a lackluster dining hall, and others viewing it as an inconvenience.
Ellie Watts, a second-year economics student, said she thinks the planned closure may be more trouble than it is worth.
“It’s kind of annoying to me,” Watts said. “I think the layout was fine and I don’t think they need to change anything.”
Adrian Alavez, a first-year economics student, said he thinks the dining hall could benefit from an update.
“It could use a little bit of work (because) it looks a little old,” Alavez said. “Normally when I go to Covel it is kind of empty. … I definitely think that a renovation could help spice things up.”