The colors green and red, as well as smiling and frowning faces, now dominate who sits where in Hokie Grill.
The dining hall implemented new two-sided table cards on Jan. 23 that diners can use to indicate whether they want other people to sit at their table.
The cards, which are located in each table’s cardholder, feature a green smiley face on one side that welcomes anyone to sit, with a red frowning face on the other showing that a person does not want to be bothered.
“It helps to meet other students, to learn about other cultures and other parts of the world,” said Brian A. Grover, the associate director of Housing and Dining Services, of what the cards can do for diners.
The idea behind the cards came from Kyle Gaarder, a sophomore biology major, who designed it after having a hard time finding a place to eat in Hokie Grill last fall.
“Part of the inspiration was that a couple times, somebody came up to me and asked me if they could sit with me,” Gaarder said. “I said, ‘Sure,’ and we ended up having a really interesting conversation.”
Hokie Grill was quickly selected to be the first dining hall to offer the cards. As Grover pointed out, student seating is one of the biggest problems Hokie Grill faces.
“If people shared tables more often, then there would be a lot more seats available,” Gaarder said.
Gaarder took his idea and contacted Grover, who helped put it into effect. As a chair holder, it was easy for Grover to address the idea in a committee meeting.
“We took his idea to the student advisory committee — dining services has a group of students — and kind of bounced the idea off of them,” Grover said. “They are kind of like our soundboard.”
Everyone on the committee was in support of the idea, Grover said. The committee worked with dining services’ marketing department to make the table cards and advertising products.
There are posters and additional cards located in all dining halls labeled civility, which explain the green and red cards.But Grover hopes to revamp the current marketing strategies.
“We want to make the program successful, and the current informational table cards are just too much to read,” Grover said, even though there hasn’t been negative feedback regarding the cards thus far.
Eventually, the cards may be available in other dining halls.
“Maybe (they will be offered at all dining halls) later in the semester — basically Hokie Grill is a pilot program,” Grover said.