Residence Hall Dining: Can We Get Some Improvements Here?

By Bryant Lewis

Make no mistake about it, IU students love to hate the halls of residence food services. And when it comes to criticisms, we've heard them all. The cafeteria food is crappy. The tacos cost too much. There's food specks left on these forks. The buns at Block & Barrel are as hard as my skull. All these are valid concerns, but what's being done to really improve the dining system? Well, it depends on what you consider to be improvement.

The new school year brought in the implementation of a new "all-points" meal plan system. This was widely regarded as a wonderful thing. But amidst all the excitement, very few people actually critically examined the new plan, a new plan that mandated the expenditure of over $2000 to receive meal points usable in the IU cafeterias and food courts. A simple question at this point, if asked publicly, could have begun an entirely new discussion of the financial feasibility of the cafeteria system. The question: Why should residents be forced to buy food within the Halls of Residence, and is this really justifiable?

Well, in my opinion the answer is simple. If the food is desirable enough to be eaten, students will pay for it themselves without prodding from university bureaucrats. Doesn't this sound like a reasonable idea? Sure it does, and many university officials may agree until they examine one other side of the situation: IU can make money off the students. And that's happening right now.

I'm not going to use all my meal points at the rate I am going, and I doubt that even 25% of the students will either. So this means a nice, pure profit is going right into the Halls of Residence bank accounts. Well, I guess if they can make money like this with no one protesting, more power to them.

As to the ridiculous cost of eating in the cafeterias (over $7 for dinner alone!), I have but one simple solution, dissolve them. End the cafeteria monopoly and contract out the service. I am sure there are many viable options available. For example, anyone who has ever eaten at a Golden Corral restaurant knows the fabulous variety of buffet food choices available for only $8 a meal. That's not too much more than under the current plan. And everyone knows we have the points to spend!

I don't expect anything to be changed soon. For one, we the students are just too apathetic, and there is no real motivation for the Halls of Residence brass to change their tunes. Personally, I've had enough. I^Om leaving the whole dorm system next semester. My wallet and my stomach have already thanked me.

Eric Seymour

Robert Schiener

Joel Corbin

Bryant Lewis