Having these new buildings did not, however, ease all the space problems. From the beginning students suffered from overcrowding in the cafeteria; a problem that was just tolerable until the food prices went up. Eight cents were added to the price of sandwiches in the fall semester 1939, and soup skyrocketed by another six cents! A trickle of negative comments while waiting on the food lines, became a flood which overflowed into a critical article in the Vanguard. A few weeks later, a quite reduction of four cents in the price of malteds was instituted to head off any rebellion.
Crowded as it was, the cafeteria was valuable real-estate for other purposes. Even with all its handsome academic buildings, space for social functions was at a premium. Student societies, official and unofficial used the cafeteria tables as centers for lively debate and exchange of ideas. A person walking from one table to another would be invited to join half a dozen different discussions ranging from Wagner to Marx.
In the 1950's the cafeteria management, trying to create a new ambiance, replaced the long, institutional style tables with more decorative, smaller, rectangular tables. Social groups could no longer form around these new fangled inventions, and the response was immediate. Rows of the new tables were pushed together to reform the old patterns, and the debates continued.