This past week, AU held a town hall meeting about creating and/or changing the dining options on campus. The Quick Take columnists address student concerns and give suggestions regarding the introduction of new dining options on campus for the 2013-2014 school year.
By Emma Gray
AU’s dining options have always been a topic of contention for students. The thought of trying anything new in TDR turns off picky students. People with dietary restrictions can’t find the food that they need. Nothing is open past 2 a.m. to fuel late night study sessions. For the most part, these are small issues that are being resolved where they can be.
Even as a vegetarian, I find AU’s food offerings to be more than enough to fill my stomach and keep me studying. However, my only major concern is Bon Appétit’s monopoly on the campus. I have no doubt this is in some way related to the contract the company has signed with the school, but I would like to see a broader variety of food ownership on-campus choices. The key is to find out where people are going off-campus and bring that here.
For example, a popular chain restaurant would be a great addition to AU’s campus and could hold its own against Bon Appétit establishments. Everyone knows that Chipotle is better than the copycat, Salsa. Why would you order pizza from Tenleytown when they could make them fresh right here? Even another sub shop like Quizno’s or a Dunkin Donuts to challenge all of the white Starbucks cups would be a welcome change.
Something that would fill a major void at AU would be a place for students to watch popular sporting events. I can’t ask for a sports bar on a dry campus, but I’m envisioning something similar. The Tavern tries to accomplish this with its projection screen, but it only show games every so often and can’t accommodate when two games coincide with one another. A smaller setting with multiple screens and an all-American menu would do well among a student body deprived of a NCAA football team.
Bon Appétit does well as the major food provider at AU, and I support its more ethical food standards. It may take a while, but I think that loosening the company’s stronghold to allow room for other food establishments in the coming years would be both beneficial to the AU community and impressive to prospective students as well.
Emma Gray is a junior in the School of Communication.
By Pete Bailey
With the closure of Tenley campus next year, more students will reside on-campus, which has raised concerns about the current dining options available.
These concerns are extremely valid. Currently, all freshmen must purchase a minimum of a 150-block meal plan each semester. While this may seem to be enough for most freshmen, the only three venues that will accept meal swipes next year are Terrace Dining Room, The Tavern, Salsa and Eagle Express.
TDR is the main dining location where most students go for their meals. However, during regular dining hours, TDR has a line that overflows into the Mary Graydon Center due to the traffic and admittance process. Once inside, there is very limited seating. Without Tenley campus’ dining hall, the number of students trying to cram into TDR will surely exceed the establishment’s capacity.
Some may argue that students’ access to the swipe-accessible Tavern would reduce the crowd at TDR. While this is true, The Tavern has the least healthy food on campus. Deep-fried chicken tenders dripping in grease may sound great to a hung-over freshman at first, but eventually The Tavern’s food will seem more like enforced weight gain than a legitimate dining option.
The final place where students can use a meal swipe is Eagle Express’ boxed lunch option. These pre-packaged sandwiches, containing more preservatives than calories, are always a last resort for anyone dining on campus. Eagle Express is not an ideal place to purchase a $8/swipe meal. Not only is the dollar-value of a swipe far greater than the quantity of food a student receives at Eagle Express, but also the quality of the sandwiches is extremely low.
With TDR as the only relatively healthy place to use a meal swipe on campus, next year’s dining program must be changed. These changes should include more places to use the mandatory meal swipes, such as the nine other venues; including Einstein Brothers Bagels, Greens, MegaBytes Café, Pronto and Eagle’s Nest, all of which currently do not accept swipes. If a student could use a meal swipe at these venues, it would drastically improve the dining program.
It is also important that campus establishments operate on college students’ schedules.
It is widely known that a typical college student will stay awake far past 10 p.m. Whether students are returning to campus late from a night out or pulling an all-nighter in the library before finals, there needs to be a place where students can find food. Last year, AU got rid of its 24-hour McDonalds. While McDonalds is not exactly the healthiest place to eat, it was nice to be able to rely on the restaurant when it was 3 a.m. and a student needed a cheap meal.
AU needs to keep its students in mind while it determines the dining program changes. Meal plans are a large expense for students and currently the options are not worth the meal plan. Next year, campus will have a larger on-campus population than ever before, and the current dining program cannot efficiently feed that many mouths.
Pete Bailey is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences.
By Reza Lustig
Word on campus is that change is in the wind for AU students, or at least greatly desired. Specifically, change for the dining programs and options offered on campus.
More options and services could certainly be the topic of discussion in the very near future. However, beforehand, we should be discussing a more pressing matter at hand: What about the Bon Appétit employees?
Living, studying and eating at one of the most expensive tertiary education facilities in the country should be considered a privilege that one is afforded via good fortune and the diligence of those that maintain the facility.
By my estimation, TDR has left very little to be desired in terms of services and food offered. For a school cafeteria, the food is generally well-made (considering it is made in bulk), the staff are hard working and generally helpful. As for variety, the Firewok and Comfort Food section both strive to offer a bevy of different dishes from different cultures. One should very much doubt that every AU student had tasted coq au vin or London broil before coming here.
To maintain such conditions, it would behoove those interested in even better services and options in dining to remember that it is necessary to assure the quality of already-existing services and options. But as everybody knows, workers who are bullied into accepting low wages and poor job security do not perform well.
Those of the student body who have been active in social justice and workers’ advocacy activities on campus know too well that the University’s policies (and those of its contractors) toward recompense for labor and labor organization are unfriendly. This needs to change before we can attempt to change food quality.
Reza Lustig is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences.