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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Give Sherman a second chance

Published: February 18, 2011
Section: Opinions

GRAPHIC BY Steven Wong/The Hoot

During orientation week, the only dining option was Sherman Dining Hall. To put it lightly, the food selection was quite poor, much more limited than during the regular semester and, although there weren’t many students to feed, provisions continued to run out. The orientation leaders told us not to be disheartened by the sub-par food as, once orientation was finished, we could eat at the wonderful Usdan instead. With this glimmer of hope, I ignored my stomach’s complaints.

The first night that Usdan re-opened, I eagerly embarked on the trek up campus. I expected to be wowed by the choices. I selected some soup, pasta and a piece of cantaloupe. The quantities of each were small but, nonetheless, it came in just more than a meal (I blame the cantaloupe for being heavy). Everything tasted fine; nothing was incredible. Still not fully satiated, I left my first Usdan experience with a heavy heart: it just wasn’t everything it had been made out to be.

Although I had vowed during orientation never to return, the next night I found myself back at Sherman. As the semester was back in swing, the assortment of food had grown tremendously. Aside from the pre-made dishes and salad and sandwich fillings, there was stir-fry, omelets and a working grill. Plate loaded with stir-fry and salad, I sat down to attack my dinner. The food was surprisingly tasty. And, the best part was, I could accompany my dinner with coffee and finish it off with a delicious banana; all for the price of a single meal. For the first time in weeks I was honestly full and satisfied.

Sherman is one of the most underappreciated facilities on campus. Students eating at Sherman not only get to choose what they want to eat, from a fairly wide assortment of Kosher, vegetarian and carnivorous options, but also have the opportunity to change their choice if they are displeased—or if they just wish to add variety to their life. At Usdan this is exceptionally far from the case: Once something unsatisfactory is selected, you are stuck … forced to either eat an unsavory dinner or to put a meal to waste.

While eating at Usdan may be an appropriate remedy for the freshman fifteen, the carefully portioned servings leave much to be desired. After a day full of stressful classes and piles of work or a lengthy visit to Gosman, a single helping of food and glass of soda just may not hit the spot. At Sherman, a student can eat and drink as much as he or she desires; and, without digging into points, pile on extra calories in ice cream, cookies and m&m’s (or, if looking for a healthier option, fresh fruit).

Sherman is also one of the best places for community building. What better way to create connections with peers than digging in to a plateful of steaming fries or sharing a brownie? Without individual meals like in Usdsan, Sherman provides the opportunity for family-style meals—a bonding experience. Not to mention, the all-you-can-eat buffet tends to lead to more extended stays. With the continual service, there is no reason to relocate once swiped into the dining hall. Aided by an ever-playing soundtrack and the constant company of friends, it is easy to spend hours procrastinating to the smell of cooking food.

So, no matter your current preference of on-campus eating, give Sherman a second chance. It deserves one.