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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

New dorms should also have new meal plan options

<iting to watch the construction of the new dorms unfold and I look forward to their completion, I don't know if I will voluntarily live in either Memorial or Cassat.

The reason that I don’t live in the dorms now and do not plan to go back is the inflexibility of Carleton’s meal plan. Like many other students, I have a difficult time eating in the dining halls. Although I think the food quality is much improved, there are other issues like inconvenient hours, limited vegetarian and vegan selections in Burton, and the exorbitant expense. I could eat every meal out at a restaurant and still pay less than I would on the 12, 20, or Block 130 meal plan. While I think Bon Appetit is doing a great job thus far and it’s impossible to completely satisfy everyone, these are big issues that need addressing. I understand that the dining halls need a certain cash flow to function, but it’s possible to pay the same or less for rent and groceries living off-campus as it is to pay for the 20 meal plan. In the current financial crisis, the money you save by buying your own groceries can really make a difference (like when you’re paying $200 a term for textbooks).

Requiring both of the new dorms to be completely on-board also seems like a bad idea for the college in addition to the students, as the new residents will inevitably go to eat at the LDC, joining those from Goodhue, Watson, Evans, Nourse, Meyers, and West-siders dissatisfied with the food and gloomy atmosphere in Burton. Why not, then, instead of inducing students to go across campus to Burton (which will take a lot of persuasion in winter), allow the students who will live in Memorial or Cassat to be off-board, or at the very least, on the five meal plan? There will be kitchenettes in Memorial and kitchens in the basement to cook. Five meals a week and snack bar dollars are plenty to socialize with friends at mealtimes. Besides, these two new dorms are smack dab in the middle of campus— I don’t think we really need to worry about the new residents being isolated. Finally, the college gets more money by accommodating students in this way than if students stray off-campus and consequently off-board.

Therefore, nice, large suites with heated floors can’t tempt me back on-campus. Cooking for myself is something that I value and joy—not being able to do so my freshman year made me genuinely unhappy. There is something unnatural about being so completely disassociated from the production of your food: not watching the onions brown in the pan, or chopping the carrots that went in your soup. The happiest I’ve been at Carleton is cooking and eating with my friends, moments I would be denied if forced to return to the dorms. On a more practical note, I think it’s embarrassing how so many people leave here brilliant scholars, but unable to feed themselves. Bon Appetit is making improvements, but the rewards you get out of cooking for yourself cannot be fulfilled by any dining service. My burnt noodles will always taste better than anything the dining hall worker dishes up, because I made them. I would only move back into the dorms if I did not have give up one of my greatest pleasures.

-Julie McCormick is a second-year student

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