The once booming and lively MoCon Dining Hall sits empty and desolate, hidden in the currently remote corner of campus between Nicolson and Hewitt. Now, according to Joyce Topshe, associate vice president for Facilities, the University may soon put an end to MoCon’s misery.
“Demolition remains an option,” Topshe said.
These days, the legions of MoCon-lovers left on campus can only reminisce about the building’s bygone glory.
“The dining experience at MoCon was very chill and mellow,” said Sabine Vilsaint ’10. “The atmosphere allowed for you to sit there for hours with friends and not even notice.”
Juniors and seniors who ate at MoCon before its 2007 closing speak of it fondly. Many, however, were unaware that the building’s fate was sealed in 1998 due to a number of University concerns.
“The building has limited accessibility for people with disabilities,” Topshe said. “The seating capacity was less than half of Usdan, and the old fashion cafeteria style servery did not lend itself to order foods without reducing the seating area.”
Other major concerns for the Board of Trustees, which made the final decisions about MoCon, include its costliness and environmental inefficiencies. The building was built in 1962 and after more than 45 years of operation its windows and roof, among other things, were wearing down.
Topshe cited an annual cost of $20,000 for MoCon’s upkeep. In addition, its enormous windowpanes and spacious layout made heating the space expensive and environmentally unfriendly. The new Usdan University Center, however, was built based on Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Certified Standards set by the U.S. Green Building Council, according to the Green Building Initiatives at the University.
Though some students enjoy Usdan dining and its options to eat downstairs and outside, some cannot help but feel wistful for the communal space of MoCon.
“It was a laidback and friendly environment,” said Noomaan Shamsi ’10. “We would turn our trays vertically so we could squish 16 people around one table.”
Walking into the building, students would descend down the stairs, scanning for friendly faces from the birds-eye view.
“You saw people you knew as you were walking down and could choose where to sit,” said Linnea Damer ’10. “You didn’t need to plan to sit with a certain group of friends or pick a specific table. I met people sitting at MoCon.”
MoCon also provided a space for announcements and performances.
“There was a great tradition at MoCon,” said Colleen Carpenter ’10. “When someone would want to make an announcement, they would go to the top of the stairs so everyone could see. If people liked the announcement they would applaud and if they didn’t they would drop their cups.”
Carpenter also noted the impromptu performances that featured students dancing between the tables.
Students also recalled being greeted by Laverne Pharham or “Grandma Mocon,” who swiped meal cards as students entered. Some appreciated Pharham’s friendliness so much that they even created a Facebook group entitled, “I Love That Sweet Old Mocon Lady Who Calls Everybody Baby and Hope That She Gives Me Free Food Again.”
Similarly, students are now getting to know the Usdan staff and have probably noticed that “Grandma Mocon” now works at Summerfields.
Even though freshmen and sophomores know little about the bizarre circular building in the corner of campus, its legacy lives on in the tales of upperclassmen.