Students offer opinions on Dining Commons at the end of a restricted semester

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Photo: Hannah Steyn

Hannah Steyn, Special Assignments Reporter

Sodexo recently sent out surveys to students who use the dining facilities on campus. According to Damian Boehlert, the general manager of Sodexo on campus, the feedback provided by students is used to improve services and build the menu selection offered.

However, currently, students aren’t particularly thrilled with the options that have been offered in the cafeteria this semester, and the surveys might indicate that change is needed.

Senior David Watson said he goes to the cafeteria around twice a day, but ends up skipping meals most days, as he finds the food to be lacking.

“My diet here is not the best,” Watson said, adding that he sticks to the basics of a protein and either rice or fries. “I would try to diversify the food I eat here, but after enough bad experiences I stick to what I know is edible.” 

Senior Stephanie González feels similarly about the options offered at the dining commons.

“Food in the dining hall just hasn’t been impressive this semester,” she said. “It’s been the same meals weekly. Most days, I don’t find anything appetizing.”

González added that she often finds herself eating the same things every day.

“I used to try different foods, but I noticed food wasn’t cooked all the way or that health and safety were ignored,” she said “Since then, I’ve stuck to fries and a sandwich every day.” 

Options for students with dietary restrictions are even more limited. The vegan station was closed for a time when the dining commons became grab-and-go, but has recently reopened. Even so, it offers a very similar selection of foods every day.

Watson said he is fortunate enough to not have many dietary restrictions, but still finds meals range from lackluster to just plain bad.

“Meals on the weekends are especially pathetic, and I just find myself getting food from Pio,” he said. “While they have the same food as the cafeteria, it’s just cooked better and is more consistent.”

Most students tend to say that if there were an option to not have the meal plan, they would choose to simply cook for themselves. But with the price of the meal plan being as high as it is, students cannot afford this option.

Residential students, with the exception of those living in Pioneer Village, are required to have a gold or premium meal plan costing about $3,000 per semester.

Watson and González both agreed that they would like to see more variety offered in the cafeteria.

“I would like to see the dining hall add options – maybe for you to cook in the back or have their staff recreate your favorite recipes,” González said.

Recently, there was a celebration in the cafeteria, in which different options such as smoothie bowls and sushi were offered for a week.

“I think the students really enjoyed it, and the President’s Office was very generous in sponsoring this week of celebration,” Boehlert said.

As Thanksgiving approaches, Boehlert said that a special meal will be planned prior to students leaving campus, and in the coming semester, results of the survey will be analyzed, and a new menu will be created.

Despite their general dissatisfaction with the options offered in the dining commons, students are happy to say that the staff are accommodating wherever they can be, and they offer a positive experience and attitude to their mealtimes.


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