Sophomores sigh at missing out on dining experience

By Aidan Finn, Staff Writer

As you walk past the reception desk at ISR, you are greeted with a scene reminiscent of a massive shopping mall, a heavily gentrified, stinky and minimalistic mall, but a spacious environment nonetheless brimming with life and inexpensive food courts. College students come to enjoy meals between classes, rent library books and soak in the atmosphere of new, like-minded freshmen who are just starting their exciting college adventure, sure to have several wondrous nights teeming with friendship, fun and forever to be cherished memories.

Then there are the sophomores. 

Micheal Garrity is one of them, a computer engineering major. Favoriting the gyros at the Latitude, Garrity was not on campus his freshman year and is experiencing the many facets of ISR for the first time with a positive attitude. 

“It’s pretty good,” Garrity said. “I like how much variety there is in ISR, but I feel like it’s always overcrowded. Some things are out of order like the soft serve machine and the silk/almond milk dispensers, but that’s just in ISR. Everything at the other halls I’ve been to seems completely open.” 

His positive vibes while eating a gyro are shared by many freshmen, who are oblivious to the experience had by their few sophomore dorm neighbors. 

Several prominent dining halls are now open to near-full operation for the 2021-2022 school year, reminiscent of the years prior to the pandemic. But last school year, many new freshmen had a diluted dining experience with many serving stations not only closed but the remaining offering the same cycle of pasta and cheese pizza. 

Caleb Berry, sophomore in Business who lived on campus last year, had adamant negative comments to share on the experience with dining halls last year. 

“I believe I definitely missed out on a dining hall experience,” Berry said, “For starters, I visited my girlfriend in Iowa and their food was legit 20 times better than ours. On top of that, we had the same dishes everywhere, long lines, no ice cream and overall a terrible experience I would never pay for again.” 

The frustration over such was not exclusive to Berry. some had a more objectively negative reflection on their meal plan last year, now outside of the program as sophomores. 

Noelle Crawford, sophomore in Engineering, lived in PAR last year and was not a fan of the limited vegan options she endured. 

“I think not being able to sit in the dining halls, especially at the beginning, really limited social opportunities,” Crawford said. “Because as a vegetarian it was really hard to eat healthy in the dining hall, or just find things to eat in general.”

While the negative memories are adamant, some students were a bit more apathetic to the whole experience. 

Jason Flanagan, sophomore in Engineering, shared his mixed feelings about his ISR experience last year. 

“I’m not too sure,” Flanagan said. “I really did enjoy having takeout because it helped with a flexible schedule, and now I don’t know what to do when the lines are super long and I can’t wait for food. But being in a buffet lets me get more of the food I like and I get to eat with more friends than before.” 

Another student who shared Flanagan’s appreciation for the mild advantages of the diluted experience was Brian Yang, sophomore in Engineering, who also was not really upset. 

“I feel like I didn’t really miss out on much,” Yang said. “In fact, I felt like there was a big unspoken advantage last year because we could take boxes out to go! That’s usually why I decided not to continue with the food plan this year because there’s just no option to take stuff to go anymore.” 

Overall, the mixed opinions and frustrations shared about the minute details of the dining experience is a symptom of a larger, more existential sense of missing out surging amongst sophomores who lived on campus the prior year. With so much newness and excitement surrounding the reopening and normal proceedings of college life filling the air, yet a constant reality check of how they are nearly halfway through is alarming many — a psychological turmoil with no real solution. 

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