The ‘food’ of North Dining Hall
Connor Mulvena | Monday, November 5, 2018
This week, The Observer featured a heated debate about access to pornography on campus. Authors on both sides of the debate called to mind questions of morality, with one side labeling pornography as an “affront to human rights.” I’m sure the discussion will develop in days to come, but for now, I would like to point your attention to another issue, with similarly heavy moral and human rights implications, which has taken a backseat on campus. The “food” of North Dining Hall.
Let me be clear, I do not mean to insult any of the staff of North Dining Hall — they are always friendly, kind and helpful. My problem lies with the “food.”
I use scare quotes because I know of no other word to describe what is served on most days in that building and to simply call it food would be an undeserving compliment.
For me, this issue is far more fundamental and concerning than that explored in the much talked of porn debate this week. I tried to tune into the debate. I even thought about lending my own thoughts, perhaps joining the conversation in a productive manner. But, I was simply too malnourished. I had eaten what I thought was meatloaf, but could have been part of an old used yoga mat, and I was feeling delirious.
I think many people agree that the food at NDH tends to be rather, how do I say this diplomatically? Horrifying. Yeah, that’s it — it’s horrifying. But it still feels like there are a ton of people who love the dining hall food, even look forward to certain items. Sometimes I’ll hear people in my dorm call their buddies to dinner saying things like, “Hey! It’s burrito night, let’s go beat the rush!” or “I had a great Fall Break, but gee, I sure missed the dining hall!” It makes me wonder if we have a masochism problem on campus.
You want to talk about an “affront to human rights” — go to NDH and grab a piece of grilled chicken. You would think grilled chicken could be a solid backup option. “If I don’t like what’s being served tonight, I can always grab some chicken!” You certainly could, or you could stay back at your dorm and gnaw on your desk for sustenance. I could break someone’s jaw with that chicken. Some states would require you to register said chicken as a lethal weapon. Some days, it’s as dry as the Sahara and as hard as a rock. Others, I question if it was ever cooked at all.
The other day, I walked into the dining hall and saw nothing that quite tickled my fancy, so I decided to make a salad. I got some spinach, a few other vegetables and decided to just put some balsamic vinegar on it. Already disgruntled by the fact that I was eating a salad, I took a bite only to find out the balsamic vinegar was soy sauce. I put my plate away, walked back to my dorm, and began working on a transfer application which I have since deleted after a weekend away from the dining hall.
None of it makes any sense to me. I can walk into the library and take out any book I want or reserve a high tech study room all to myself. I can walk into the JACC and play basketball on a beautiful hardwood court. I can go to Duncan and exercise with world class resources at my disposal. But I can’t eat a cheeseburger for lunch without risking a chipped tooth? As a community, we need to look out for each other, we need to be better. And I can think of nothing as moral as making sure our peers are well fed.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.