A letter to the Public from an anonymous Sophomore
I will admit: the food here tastes solid. Stimson brunches miraculously have cured a couple of hangovers. However, I absolutely hate the food here. I hate the dining hall hours. I hate the price of a meal plan. I hate that point of the semester where half the college runs out of food and the administration pretends to care about food insecurity. And I hate Bon Appetite.
A recent dinner at Stimson that infuriated me fueled me to openly project my disdain. I came in at 7pm, knowing the hall closes at 8. I never expected the hall to offer the same amenities it does at 5. I wasn’t getting a precisely cut piece of red velvet cake or cheesy pasta hot out of the pan. I did expect a dining hall that was at least halfway stocked with something edible. The three main food areas mostly served crumbs, the stir fry station wasn’t staffed, and all the ice cream was gone. I resorted to nibbling on vegetables from the salad bar and chewing on cold french bread pizza in contempt.
If in my ideal world, Goucher covered all of my expenses, I would gladly chow down on cold bread and chug the fair trade coffee that tastes like a wet burp. Not only is that not the case, but I am actually paying more for my meals than the average college student in the Baltimore area.
For example, Loyola Maryland students pay $2,407 per semester for a 150 block with $400 in meal plan points (think of dining dollars). To get the same plan at Goucher with $100 less in dining dollars, we have to pay $2,585. Meanwhile, Johns Hopkins, which is also catered by Bon Appetit, offers an Anytime meal plan that grants unlimited access to a Stimson like dining hall and other add ons for $3,430 per semester. At Goucher, the highest tier meal plan, which doesn’t even offer you three meals a day, is only $185 cheaper.
Sadly, the shortcomings regarding dining services doesn’t end merely at prices. At what college can I crave dinner at 7:10 pm on a Sunday night and realize that nothing is open? Goucher College of course. To be fair, at the University of Pennsylvania, (also catered by Bon Appetite) all dining facilities are closed by 7pm on weekends (I hope I’m not giving the administration ideas). But Penn is located in Philadelphia’s University City, a place where a halal truck is probably right outside your dorm and where plenty of aspiring yuppie friendly restaurants are craving business.
Where is Goucher? Definitely not in Baltimore and not in a place where late night munchies are easy to find and affordable. How many times do we have to pay Domino’s Pizza $20 in delivery fees before we collectively realize that we need more dining options on weekend nights when we’re pathetically drunk on our friend’s floor for the 8th Friday night in a row?
Nevermind the school cutting down on gluten free options. Nevermind how the standard meal plan only guarantees you one meal a day and two on the days you really want to treat yourself. Nevermind how the working conditions at Stimson are so bad that student employees are not allowed to work there. And that fire last year? We should forget that happened too.
And just to clarify, this is not an attack on Bon Appetite’s employees. A lot of lovely people work there and they do not deserve the blame for the shortcomings of the company they represent. Also, shout out to those Alice’s baristas who can fix me up a raspberry ice tea on a hot day to perfection. You truly rock and do not deserve to be associated with this mess.
But anyway, this academic year, with all the construction, is being treated like a transition year. A rebuilding year. In sports terms (so hopefully some of you understand the language I’m about to speak), this is the year we tank so we can get the number one draft pick in order for the team to be better the next year and for years to come. No wonder why tuition did not go up. What team increases ticket prices during the year they aim to finish in last place?
Of course, once the new dining hall opens, it will all get better. Maybe the administration and Bon Appetite will stop playing the blame game and take our concerns seriously. Frankly, I do not care about next year. I care about this semester and improving with what we have to work with. Boycotts will not work (we already paid for this food) and social justice grants will not work (because that money should not go towards feeding a predominantly bougie student body, come on now).
Take all the dining surveys you can. E-mail those in charge of both Bon Appetite and the school. Show up to at least one student government meeting. Do not be afraid to voice your opinions about the services you pay for (or for what your parents pay for, if you’re one of the lucky ones). Because capitalism and the constitution (whether you warriors of social justice hate them or not) allow you to. And please disagree with me. Any kind of back and forth with this subject will strengthen the ideas put forth to solve the issue. So put down those Jose Bowen memes, leave those designated smoking areas, and partake in some palpable change. Your stomach will love you for it.