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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Brandeis dining requires reform

Published: September 29, 2006
Section: Opinions

Last year, I wrote a Forum piece in the Justice about Brandeis University's dining problems. I commended the University for its qualities, but explained that much more needed to be accomplished. Since then, nothing has been achieved. This is no longer simply a hassle, no longer just something about which students are complaining;

this is a serious issue with an outcome that affects the health and well-being of all members of the Brandeis community.

The solution will include many reforms, but especially those listed below:

–INFORMATION. Before students swipe their first meal cards, let them know the rules. It's embarrassing to wait in line for ten minutes only to learn that you cannot have lunch for a second time, or to learn that not all the items in the C-store are covered by meals. Even if everything stays the same, knock on wood, at least make sure everyone knows the details. For example, include it in the Orientation Packet. Whatever it takes. It's not hard– just do it.

–TIMING: When Sherman claims to have continual service, it's lying: at least for an hour or two of that service, over half of the meal options are… well, not options. Continual Service means, until closing or break time, that all services are available to the students. Certain kids have to time when they eat, and this problem makes it difficult to juggle classwork with the fundamental right of consuming sufficient food. It sounds like a joke, but the only thing funny is that the University hasn't yet realized the significance of this issue.

–MEAL FREQUENCY: Wouldn't it be funny if you had four movie vouchers and decided to go wild and see four movies for your birthday or some special occassion, only to have the usher apologize and say that you can only use one voucher per time period, and that there were only three time periods? That's what happens (for example) when I have 21 meals per week but only eat two meals one day and therefore have an extra meal the next;

I am not allowed to swipe my card twice during lunchtime. There is no logic behind this rule. The meal plan is 21 meals per week, not three meals per day.

–USDAN PRICING: I can only go so far in arguing that prices should be lowered in Usdan, so I won't waste any more of your time on that than stating that that's my belief. However, the fact that a meal covers a different cost per each meal is absurd. If ANYTHING, breakfast should be worth the most, since it's “the most important meal of the day”. Then again, I believe that ALL meals should be covered equally. Another thought: If I go over on my meal and know that the next day I'll only be eating a snack for lunch, I should be able to say, “Put it on the tab for my next meal”;

too often do we purchase extra items at Usdan (only to throw them away), when we're under the limit, so we feel like we aren't wasting our meals. At other times we go over the limit. The idea I just proposed is the solution to that problem. It sounds fair to me. Even CELL PHONE companies, who could easily suck the money out of college students, do roll-over minutes. Why not do roll-over meal-dollars, where anytime you spend less it rolls over, and anytime you spend more it goes on the next meal's tab? This creates an economical equilibrium.

–OTHER: Improve quality;

Survey students more frequently about their dining experiences;

look to other universities (as I had mentioned in my Justice article) for what works;

care about the Brandeis Communtiy's overall health.

The status quo contains a bundle of problems, and these create stress. We have, excuse the pun, enough on our plates as it is to worry about our ability to eat what needs to be eaten and when it needs to be eaten. Because of crazy class and club schedules, different financial situations, and a confusion in general as to how the meal system works, let's solve these problems. What needs to be done is obvious, but it's up to those in power to care enough about our health and well-being to make it happen.