Established 1826 — Oldest College Newspaper West of the Alleghenies

Dining hall changes reduce choices, offer more problems than solutions

The following piece, written by the editorial editors, reflects the majority opinion of the editorial board.

When you stop and look around at this picture-perfect collegiate world around us, all we often see are boxes. There's an army of similar faces, dressed in familiar clothing styles, walking to and from the same buildings, all marching to the same scheduled set of ringing bells.

Our one creative outlet, our one moment to step out of the box, has always been when our stomachs start growling and we opened the doors to our favorite dining hall and saw countless options before us. When the outside world was telling us "stay between the lines," we savored dinner-time's friendly "create your own" mantra.

But now, thanks to a host of recent dining hall changes, everything has changed. The freedom and control we so adored is being slowly stripped away and put in pre-arranged boxes of food combinations. And as The Editorial Board, we're not cool with it. We're about to have a major "let them eat cake" moment.

The university's decision to create three pre-mixed vegetable choices in our stir-fry may seem insignificant, but it's impeding on our free will and creativity.

We're sorry, but we would prefer not to have edamame and bean sprouts mingling with our peppers and pineapple. We're not really persuaded by clever labels for these tubs full of mixed vegetables like "immunity boost" or "energy boost" either. What does that even mean?

It's understandable that certain changes need to be made in order to accommodate the understaffed dining services and to make the system more efficient, but it seems the fan favorites are gone. We know that waiting in long lines at Armstrong isn't ideal, but we would rather have our food the way we want it.

This is especially the case for milkshakes at Pulley Diner. Not everyone is a chocolate and vanilla person, okay? Let us throw in a little peanut butter or something if we're feeling adventurous.

How does this kind of change even help wait times or staff efficiency? They're still going to make milkshakes, so what difference does the flavor make? And it's obvious that stir fry was the most frequented option in Armstrong. Granted, there needed to be some change to make that line go more quickly, but they've taken away the parts of it that people are inherently drawn to, like the build-your-own bowl.

These changes eliminate student choices, which is the whole point of the a-la-carte dining locations. The intention might've been to reduce wait times, but honestly, we would rather wait an extra 15 minutes than have a bunch of stuff on our plate we hate.

Maybe we all want the simplicity of buffet-style dining halls (remember hot Scott and cold Scott?). Our options now are fancy and prestigious, but overcomplicated.

When we eat on campus, we like to have control over what's in front of us. We prefer to make our own salad or sandwich or pick out the types and amounts of ingredients. When options are cut and dining becomes streamlined, our sense of control is taken away.

With the way things are headed, we smell an underhanded scheme to force us to eat at more expensive dining locations; because the truth is if we go to Armstrong, we pay more than we would at a buffet location, like Harris. This student body pays so much extra money to eat in dining halls - it's ridiculous to close off certain options for food.

We would rather wait in long lines for customizable food than to be forced into some food template. Students are going complain about the long wait times, but students are now transposing their complaints to the limits of food offerings. That being said, if there are going to be complaints either way, then let us eat our cake.