Established 1826 — Oldest College Newspaper West of the Alleghenies

Miami Dining: not by the student, not for the students

Amid the buzz and excitement of the beginning of the school year, there is one thing that always brings my spirits down: the first walk back to the dining halls. Coming off the luxury of home-cooked meals, fast food franchises and literally anything not made in giant sheet pans, that first swipe into the dining hall makes my stomach drop - surprisingly, it's the same feeling I get after leaving.

However, when I walked into Miami's favorite dining location - Western Dining Hall - this semester, there were a few changes that caught me off guard as I rounded past the made-to-order stir fry/pasta line and skipped over the goo of a main entree. I beelined for the usual pizza and grill - the two trusted favorites, where all the food is some sort of shade of yellow.

But to my surprise, there was only pizza, and my burgers, fries, and chicken were replaced by another yellow food: pasta. I thought that this was a gift sent from heaven, for pasta has never been a non-gluten free option, so I filled up a big plate and sat down with my friends. Now I thought that pasta was going to be a one-time thing, but as I continued to eat dinner at Western this quickly changed. Instead of the grill items, there is pasta - every single night.

All I want is my chicken tenders back. No matter how bad my day was, no matter how stressed I got, and no matter how much work I had weighing me down, nothing cheered me up better than a few golden, crispy chicken tenders. The grill line had always been a source of comfort, but more importantly, a source of variety in the dining hall. Each day, you could pick between a red meat, a white meat, and some sort of starch. On top of that, since the feature entree is always hit-or-miss - but mostly miss - the options came down to the grill or vegan line. Now, you either carbo-load on pasta or eat chicken and rice.

Sadly, the disappearance of the Western grill items is just the most recent case of Miami Dining disasters. With a flawed meal plan that was supposed to be new and improved, the changes that have been made are leaving students with the same old, instead of giving dining options students truly want. Just increasing the number of "swipe-in" dining halls doesn't mean students will want to use more buffet swipes. The conversion of crowd favorites such as Bell Tower and Maple Street to dining halls, along with the lack of variety across campus food, creates a monotonous dining experience for students.

Not only do dining halls have the

same 5 things every time, but the use of declining balance is a missed opportunity. Besides "The Toasted Bagel" and knock-off-Panera, any declining balance food item can easily be found at dining halls. The only difference between the two is that one is just more convenient.However, the grab-and-go nature of these places is slowed down due to the fact they are understaffed and overworked. The same people deliver fantastic food each day but are still swamped at high influx times.

As seen by the long lines, student want diversity in their food, and Miami doesn't keep up.

It's about time that Miami brings a franchise besides Starbucks to campus. Yes, that will end their monopoly on all things food, but it truly would meet the students' needs. I'm tired of getting excited about a new place to eat in Armstrong and having it be food that easily could've been added to Pulley's menu. Nothing would delight me more than a Chick-fil-A, Qdoba, or Panera on campus.

I understand and acknowledge the changes that have been made to the meal plans, such as the incorporation of a new plan with more declining balance and less swipes; however, the meal plan only benefits one entity on campus: the university itself.

Last year, one of the biggest complaints was that students had so many swipes left over that their money was being wasted. To change this, the swipes were set on a weekly basis, which reset each weekend. While this sounds like the perfect fix - giving students just what they need each week - in reality, the leftover 2-7 swipes not used up during the week stack to be the same number of wasted swipes at the end of each semester last year. In addition to swipes still being wasted, the ridiculous prices of the markets on campus further serve to help Miami profit. The margins on simple college necessities such as soup, snacks, and easy-mac make declining balance easily live up to its name: declining.

In a time where consistent schedules seem nonexistent and our lives change by the day, Miami Dining should work to accommodate the students instead of seeking profit. Why can't Miami have a single, one-currency system? That way, students can cater to their personal needs and have the freedom to eat wherever they want. When it comes to food, we shouldn't be paying more for the same old, and as the dining scene changes and grows, I hope we will get to a place where everyone is full.