Opinion | Slandering Ikenberry Dining Hall does not make you cool

Ikenberry+Dining+Hall+seats+many+students+during+their+meals.+Ikenberry+Dining+Hall+has+a+wide+variety+in+food+options.+

Photo Courtesy of University Housing

Ikenberry Dining Hall seats many students during their meals. Ikenberry Dining Hall has a wide variety in food options.

By Nick Johnson, Assistant Opinions Editor

The University of Illinois is one of the nation’s premier public education institutions which excels in delivering its students a stellar college experience, and first-year housing is an aspect that the University does not take lightly. Between the 15 undergraduate halls and numerous private certified housing facilities, students are bound to find a place they call home.

A central part of one’s first year on any college campus is feeling at home — that word, “home,” should not be used lightly. One’s home is not merely where they take up residence for a certain period of time, but rather a place they feel safe, comfortable and sheltered. Many things combine to make one feel at home, such as the company you live with and the location in which you reside.

However, while one might not think it at first, one component that arguably plays the most vital role in creating a homely atmosphere is food.

Having an adequate means of sustenance goes hand-in-hand with the emotions of safety, comfort and stability that are paramount to a homelike environment. If one is asked to recall memories of their childhood home, they almost undoubtedly would imagine their favorite home-cooked dish they were served while growing up. 

With that being said — and this cannot be stressed enough — incoming students: Complaining about Ikenberry Dining Hall does not make you cool.

Just as it likely was in high school, new students will find commiseration to be a powerful social mechanism that will be utilized to create friendships and blow off steam. Whether it’s your woes of how awful an instructor is with your classmates or expressing your distaste with how an Illini sports season is playing out, the ability to sympathize with others about commonly experienced annoyances is a useful tool that helps you relate to your peers.

However, new students must be made aware of how trite they sound when they complain about Ikenberry Dining Hall, the dining facility which resides in the Six pack area of university dorms.

Every year, the spirit of retired University President Stanley O. Ikenberry opens the doors to the building which bears his namesake, with a welcoming attitude akin to the Statue of Liberty — he takes our tired, he takes our poor and he most certainly takes our huddled masses who are sleep deprived and likely a bit hungover.

What kind of thanks does this kind-hearted man and his oasis of a building receive, one might ask? Next to none — rather, the Ike Dining Hall is trafficked by thousands of students per day who enter the building, scan over the seven unique restaurant options which contain a variety of freshly cooked cuisines and think to themselves, “Ugh, there’s nothing to eat.”

Are you in the mood for a standard American meal? Gregory Drive Diner is always there to provide freshly made burgers and fries. Maybe you’re feeling adventurous and would like to try a traditional foreign meal? Hortensia’s has you covered. Did you just recently watch the episode of The Office where Michael forcefully orders “the gabagool” at a restaurant and now find yourself craving an Italian dish? Look no further than Penne Lane.

Do you find yourself frustrated after reading the above paragraph because you’re vegan and cannot eat any of these scrumptious foods? Head on over to Soytainly for a cringeworthy pun and vegan-friendly options. Perhaps you’re adhering to a strict diet and are counting calories like Count von Count of Sesame Street was your nutritionist? Check out the bountiful salad and fruit bars at Euclid Street Deli.

Incoming students, should you doubt this elevator pitch of an article, go ask any former Six Pack resident about the legend of “Tuesday Night Ike” during their freshman year and observe as their mouths immediately impersonate Niagara Falls. With Gregory Drive serving a coma-inducing menu of fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, cornbread and broccoli, while across the room Hortensia’s is dishing out an impressive Taco Tuesday smorgasbord — it’s college dining heaven.

Is the Ike Dining Hall an illustrious Brazilian steakhouse? No. Does this university dining facility deliver a five-star restaurant experience? Absolutely not. Ike Dining is most certainly not without its imperfections — but these imperfections must not be dwelled upon. No matter what, this dining hall will never fail to provide new students with the refuge they so desperately need. Whether you’ve just taken a stressful test, had a rough night out or are simply planning to meet some friends for a meal: The Ike is, has been, and will always be there for you.

Nick is a junior in LAS.

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