The opening of the newly-renovated Douglass Dining Center this semester has brought many improvements to the school—from a new late-night dining option to an allergen-free station to a décor worthy of only the best student tour groups.
But as I joined a group of UR students on their long walk to Barnes & Noble, we had a lot of time to discuss some of the less-expected benefits of the new dining hall.
“I never expected them to lock the gluten free food away for only legitimately gluten-free students to access,” Ariane Pain, a gluten-tolerant student who nonetheless suffers from debilitating glutenophobia, said. “I was really surprised that they needed a signed form from my psychic—I mean psychologist—to grant access to the room, but now I never have to worry about other people taking my food from me or calling my condition ‘made up’ or ‘a media-inflated fad diet taken to a weird extreme.’”
Most of the students I spoke with commented on how much they liked the new “guessing game” style of Douglass. “Some days, the food is all labelled and we just get our food and eat in bored silence,” junior Lilo Pelekai said. “But then there are the exciting days when the food isn’t individually labelled. The TVs have a list of food items on them, but if you’ve never heard of the food before, there’s no way of telling which is which.”
“We’ve worked out a fun way to play,” explained her friend sophomore Andrew Faulstitch. “Every day, we each study different Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese, and Japanese dishes before we go to the dining hall together. Whoever can match the dishes at the Street Food Station with the names on the TV first wins. Sometimes, we even hold a challenge round for the times when the TVs are off.”
For their other friend, a senior who would only speak on condition of partial anonymity, the game is fraught with an exciting degree of danger, due to his nut allergy.
“When the ‘contains nuts’ sign at the dessert station gets knocked around by people and sits ambiguously in front of two different plates, or when they switch to a seemingly nut-free dessert later in the night but don’t move the sign, so the TV just says, ‘Assorted Pastries,’ the game for me changes from ‘What Am I Eating?’ to ‘Will This Cookie Kill Me?,’” he said. “I hoped the allergen-free station might serve desserts, but I know how rare it is for someone to have allergies and a sweet tooth, so I’m probably the only one who’s affected.”
“Besides,” he added, “what fun is the Dougie Guessing Game without a little danger?”