This semester, I have struggled with out-the-door-lines and close-to-legal-capacity crowds that make me feel more like a cow crowded into a pen to be fattened rather than the happy Dana-sitter I was before SLUs decision to raise the admissions rate once again. Despite the fact that the administration has made an admirable effort to provide other options on campus, such as Johnson to-go and the new dorm café, the lunch crunch is only a small part of a larger issue. Last supper, it took 15 minutes to find a table, and I can’t imagine how it will be next year. I challenge Dana to release the number of card swipes and show us it is not above official capacity, because it’s damn near close.
The hilarity of Dana’s popularity is that each semester, Dana’s meal choices have consistently been getting worse and worse. While Dining Services can tout its awards, lets remember they were given to Dining Services for its accounting. With its inflated ego and attempt to pander towards the heightened pallet of the average L.L. Bean student, Dana has shot high this semester, but considerably fell short of expectations (again). Dana’s attempt at 5-star food has lost sight of the bare basics students need. I’m talking about the carbs, carbs, carbs being stuffed into my face because it’s cheep and easy to make. As I sit with my Dana to-go box in front of me, I notice three different types of potato. Sundays are the best: you get to have a Sunday with your baked potato. While you can find attempts at gourmet choices, from stuffed mushrooms to organic dried mangos, the simple nutrition and taste everyone needs are being served to alumni, while we get to pick up the scraps.
Often, there is only one option for protein, and this is often pork. Breakfasts often serve bacon, sausage, and ham to boot; my Jewish friend has to stick to veggies, but thank God the Christians get their Fish Friday! (Ps.: no one likes Dana fish). This doesn’t even account for my friends with dietary restrictions: there are hardly labels for food, and my friend is stuck with salad almost every meal because even the lasagna and hot dogs have a chance of being porked-up and everything has gluten in it. And yet Dana brings it with dessert: the expensive cheesecakes and chocolate goodies nicely follow up our American dinner of white bread and white pasta. Have you ever considered eating that pudding blob in the organic bar with sprinkles on it? Ugh. Please also get rid of those weird and esoteric recipes like cheeseburger soup. On top of this, Dana starts closing earlier than advertised. Don’t bother to come after 7:30, because Dana often doesn’t restock its food after this.
I’m not asking much. Just a little closer attention to what students actually want, and what makes a balanced meal. Those salmon burgers you served three times in a row because no one ate them? Scrap them. Those three rice options? Replace two with some actual meat (not those ultra-dry white bricks you call chicken). Make sure the foods go together, and that there is a protein option. It’s not too hard. Otherwise, next semester I’m getting the full-flex plan, and many other students will too. At least this could solve the crowding issue.