Big changes are in the works for dining on campus next year, and things don’t look good. Maybe it’s just fear of the unknown, but I am not excited about any of the upcoming shifts and am actively worried about most of them. I’m going through them one by one and thinking about the impact they will have. It seems pretty bleak to me, but if you disagree, I just hope you’re right.
Danforth will be newly renovated, and be open for lunch and dinner until 10 p.m. seven days a week. This is probably at least somewhat positive, since Danforth could definitely use a renovation. Pretty much everyone agrees that Danforth is the worst option for food on campus, so some upgrades will be nice. It seems rather counterintuitive, however, to make it better, and then make it open less often. How different is being open until 10 than being open until 8? Most people seem to want food from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. or 12 p.m. to 1 p.m., so the extra two hours seem somewhat awkwardly placed. Still, generally positive.
Douglass Dining Center will become an all-you-can-eat facility, open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Thursday and 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday. Douglass is one of the better places to eat on campus, in part because it isn’t all-you-can-eat.
By changing it, any incentive for the food quality to remain high is removed, and it will quickly fall down to the level of Danforth. The limited hours also mean that people on the unlimited plans (which includes every freshman) will basically have to eat only at Danforth on the weekends, not a happy situation. Unlike breakfast, brunch at Danforth remains popular, yet it seems like it has been eliminated without any replacement, which is simply terrible. They got rid of Danforth’s one redeeming quality and replaced it with Douglass, becoming less convenient for many and still not even open on the weekends.
Hillside Café will become a Provision on Demand market and will be open 24 hours a day Sunday through Thursday and until 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday. The Corner Store really isn’t adequate, and a bigger space and more complete stock are desperately needed, but did it have to take the place of Hillside, the only de facto late night food option? Without Danforth breakfast or Hillside at 2 a.m., any reason for freshmen to be proud to live in Sue B. instead of on the Residential Quad will vanish. Now there is nowhere to get a cooked meal after 10 p.m, except for the Commons.
Clubs have been replaced with unlimited access to Danforth and Douglass as often as you wish, every day. Unlimited plans now come with significantly less Declining. This is the one that makes me angriest. It might not actually be the worst, but with each of the others, I can reasonably see how they might think it would be a good thing. This just seems like a slap in the face to the wants and needs of the students.
The meal plans would ideally allow you to scale both meals and declining, but if we have to choose one, it should certainly be meals. I was really looking forward to spending less money as a sophomore with about half as many clubs and around the same amount of declining.
Now I learn I either have to commit almost entirely to Douglass and Danforth (and, if I want to save any money with one of those plans, I only get $100 in Declining), or get no meals at all. This isn’t a positive change at all; it’s just a restriction of choice that results in the University and Aramark getting more money.
So where does that leave us? On the one hand, we have a (potentially) nicer Danforth, a larger market and Douglass open for breakfast. On the other hand, we have worse hours for Danforth, potentially lowered food quality at Douglass, brunch AWOL, no more Hillside, the Pit made far more costly, and much less flexibility in our choice of meal plans.
At this point, my only hope is that using other people’s IDs won’t be difficult, so the one friend who has the unlimited plan can bankroll everyone’s trips to Douglass. Otherwise, things aren’t looking good.