The Clemson Dining Hall Experience Natalie Feagin


  • To explore the Clemson on campus dining halls: Schilletter and Core, and define what students would call a good experience.
  • Based on these experiences improve the student experience in the dining halls.
  • Highlight the differences students have between freshman year and sophomore year with the dining halls.

Research Problem:

What defines a good experience in the Clemson dining halls?

  • What aspects of the dining halls dictate what sort of experience you have?
  • Preference in dining halls and why
  • How would you improve the dining halls?


Ethnographic Approach

  • Interviews
  • Observations
Beginning steps of analyzing my interviews


  • Listening to interviews and typing out a compressed transcription of them. Looking over my original thoughts I wrote down from the interview.
  • Adding comments to the quotes and findings from the interviews
  • Looking at the observations I typed out and picking out noteworthy scenes. As well as, look at my original field notes.
Example of Observation notes in Core



  • Schilletter:

Participants described the atmosphere of Schilletter often when describing what sort of experience they have.

"The ceilings aren't 100 feet tall"
"It is dark and not as bright, I feel cramped and small"


The organization of Core also came up often. Participants would describe how the atmosphere in Core had a large part in their experience and frequency of going.

"It looks like an airport, or a modern museum"
"It is more bright, I love the tall ceilings"
"I feel like it's just cleaner than Schilletter"

Eating alone vs. with people:

  • Schilletter a more comfortable place to eat alone.
  • Core was a better place to socialize with large groups of friends.

Pace of Meals:

  • People tend to eat more quickly in Schilletter vs. Core
  • Depending on whether they would rather socialize or get in and get out dictated their experience
"My roommates and I, even though we all live together we sometimes just spend hours in Core for a change of environment"

Freshman year vs. Sophomore year

  • All participants, excluding the freshman I interviewed, said they had a better dining hall experience freshman year.
  • Tired of the food
  • Sophomore residents on campus find it hard to eat with friends
"Everything was new, I was less phased by the mediocre food."

Gender Differences:

  • Girls feel less comfortable eating alone.
  • Guys are less fazed when they eat alone.
  • Girls hate the food more, guys don't mind it.
  • Girls experiences more commanded by the social and food experience
"A good experience for me is when there is macaroni."
"When there is chicken tenders I'm having a good time."
  • Guys experience was more commanded by the social aspect.
"A good experience for me is when all my friend's schedules line up, we didn't have anything to do, and we could just relax and eat dinner together."


  • Experiences vary based on which dining hall students go to
  • Good experiences differ from person to person, but most participants had similar criticisms and compliments.
  • The dining halls are integral parts of freshman year social life.

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