By Jov’An Benjamin, Alaya Boykin and Cam…

By Jov’An Benjamin, Alaya Boykin and Camille Madison

Hampton University is reconstructing history. The launch of a new dining facility has many students on campus anxious and curious as they anticipate the new features of the grand structure.

In October 2006, HU embarked on a $25 million campaign to create a first-class, market-style dining facility for students. During this time, the aim was to have alumni contribute $5 million to help construct it. According to the HU New Cafeteria Campaign booklet, over the past few years the university has raised $20 million.

With the help of an anonymous donor matching alumni contributions dollar for dollar, alumni have raised a total of $3.6 million. There remains $1.4 million to be raised before construction is to begin.

The new cafeteria is promised to be a striking structure that features a three-story atrium hall, a waterfront view of downtown Hampton and an outdoor terrace. There will be two dining halls: one for students, which will seat 1,500, and another for special university dining and entertainment events, which will seat 1,150.

Although the plans of a new dining area can be exciting, some students are wary about the outcome of this project.

“A nice building mixed with food that’s not good won’t work,” said Carmena Bell, a junior broadcast journalism major from Los Angeles.

In the past, students have complained about the quality and nutritional value of the cafeteria food.

The timeliness of the development also creates angst among some students. They wonder when they will physically see the cafeteria, instead of empty ditch.

A spokesperson in the office for development said an official ground breaking date has not been set, but is anticipated to be sometime in 2011.

In October, a former muddy pond was smoothed into level ground and vertical posts were erected at the construction site off East Queen Street.

Out with the old and in with the new means replacing a historical HU landmark. The new dining facility will replace the dining hall located in Virginia Cleveland, which was built in 1874, is listed on the national historic register, President William R. Harvey told several hundred parents on Oct. 16.

The building will not be eliminated completely, but renovations will be made in order to convert Virginia Cleveland Hall into a residential space for female students.

According to the new cafeteria website, its last renovation was on the exterior in 1996 when slate roofing, windows and ornamental architectural were restored.

The interior was renovated in 2003 to include installation of heating ventilation and air conditioning systems; structural and mechanical upgrades; and interior finishes.

The new cafeteria will also make changes with their food traditions. Many students said with a new cafeteria there should also be new choices of food.

“Before I came to Hampton I always heard the food was bad,” said Cameron Lawson, freshman architecture major from Clinton, Md. “I have now experienced the food and can agree with all of the rumors. I hope the new cafeteria will be an upgrade of what we have now and bring a better food variety.”

The new cafeteria will offer new cook-to-order food stations, a cereal and fruit bar, grill station offering hamburgers and steaks, vegetarian bar and gourmet dessert station.

As part of the HU campus undergoes an upgrade, students that were looking forward to experiencing the progress will have already graduated by the time the dining facility is finished.

Upon breaking ground, the building is projected to take two years to finish. Although some may feel that they are missing out on a monumental creation, HU administration has welcomed all alumni to come back and enjoy the new dining facility.

The writers are students at the Hampton University Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications

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