Robertson Park attempts to pick up the pace
Sign placed on Z-Green advertising live music and food truck at Robertson Park. Photo taken on Mar. 28 by Naomi Nerlien.

Robertson Park attempts to pick up the pace

Since Robertson Park first opened its metaphorical doors in February 2024, it has received mixed reviews from students, faculty and community members. After a slow start, the administration heard the feedback and refined its approach to facilitating this new campus space. To gauge whether feelings on the park have since shifted, the Catalyst spoke to a variety of sources. 

Graphic used in an email sent by Marketing and Communications on Feb. 15. Photo by Naomi Nerlien. 

Marketing and Communications began promoting the park via email on Feb. 15, advertising “Happy hour at Robertson Park” on Fridays and Saturdays from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. While the New College community received many promotional emails, sometimes more than once per day, attendance rates were low. 

One major reason for this was that students had to use their own money to pay for the food trucks and no student discount was available. Contempt further stirred in students who didn’t forget that all profits made from the park went to support the growing Athletics program. 

Screenshot from an email sent from Marketing and Communications on Wed. Mar. 13. Photo by Naomi Nerlien. 

“I would never pay for food here because it goes to athletics,” second-year Cori Brand told the Catalyst. “If it went to New College in general then maybe, but why would I pay for them to get Dort and Gold?”

To combat this, an email was sent to students announcing the introduction of Student Thursdays,with The subject line read “Robertson Park OPEN March 14-16 (5:30 to 9:30 p.m.): FREE FOOD for First 50 Students w/ID on Thursdays.”

When the first Student Thursday arrived on March 14, yard signs were placed around campus in locations such as Z-Green and the ACE Plaza. This Catalyst reporter arrived at Robertson Park at 5:30 p.m. and on the way already saw large groups of students making their way there. 

Students in line for Pappa Stack Food Shack on March 14, 2024 at 5:41 p.m. Photo by Naomi Nerlien. 

Upon arrival, this reporter took in the scene: a long line of students eagerly chatting and awaiting their meal—a hamburger and fries from Pappa Stack Food Shack. The food truck owner was dripping with sweat and anxiously checking the list as he shoved burgers out the window. By 5:55 p.m., the 50 student limit had already been reached. 

After Spring Break, the original quota of 50 free student meals was increased to 75 on March 28. As time progressed, the number of free student meals fluctuated between 50, 60 and 75.  

Also on Mar. 28, the New College community received an announcement that the local band “All in Color” would be playing that night. An anonymously student-run meme page on Instagram quickly corrected that the band’s name was Now in Color. 

Now in Color was unavailable for an interview before the publication of this article. However, the band confirmed via email that “we had a pretty negative experience.” Attendees of the event say this was due to miscommunication with the event director on what equipment would be provided for the band, among other things. 

Students in line for Curuvian Food Truck at Robertson Park on May 2, 2024 at 6 p.m. Photo by Naomi Nerlien. 

On May 2 students were informed via email that the Curuvian Food Truck, serving Cuban, Peruvian and American food, would be on campus that Thursday night. Enticed at the thought of a different cuisine, attendance skyrocketed, similar to how it was in the beginning. Around 10 students were already waiting when the food truck arrived 20 minutes late due to traffic. 

Menu for students from the Curuvian Food Truck. Photo by Naomi Nerlien. 

The food truck did not begin taking orders until 5:51 p.m. and after choosing from a menu, students waited for about 10 minutes before getting their meal. Students agreed that they enjoyed the variety of choices and didn’t mind waiting for their food to be prepared. 

Congri with tostones from Curuvian Food Truck. Photo by Naomi Nerlien.

With student clubs now able to book the space on certain Thursdays, the Asian Pacific Islander Association (APSIA) jumped at the chance, eager to be one of the first to use the park. Unfortunately, their promised food truck never arrived.

“Dr. Thornton, the event speaker, brought food and Kyla [Baldonado] got the Publix card and we got stuff in general for the people with dietary restrictions. Then Stephanie from Metz [Culinary Management] brought us drinks,” first-year Amari Gutierrez told the Catalyst. 

If changes are still underway, it isn’t clear what they are or when they will be implemented. Students want a variety of options when it comes to meals, and though they appreciate being able to use the park for their clubs, it is confusing how to do so without communication from the person in charge of events. It seems the administration should focus on improving and perfecting their current projects before rushing to expand new endeavors. 

Naomi Copeland, Director of Events declined an interview for this story and Director of Communications and Marketing Nathan March was unavailable. 

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