Editorial Whet your appetite?

Putting a fully functioning Starbucks on campus has been one of the administration’s best decisions in the past year or so, as the long lines, crowded tables and ubiquitous presence of Starbucks cups in classrooms have shown. The high caffeine consumption may be problematic for R.A.s that must deal with insomniac students, but Starbucks also sells sandwiches and pastries, and its appealing atmosphere comforts homesick, hungry students.
Yet, besides that outstanding addition to campus and Student Government’s achievement in extending the C-Store’s hours during exams, UM students still go hungry.
The dining halls hours pose a problem to resident students. Dinner ends at 7:30 p.m. on Monday through Thursday (with deli service available until 9 p.m.) and at 7 p.m. Friday through Sunday. Considering that students go to bed late, eating dinner by 7 p.m. leaves a gap of several hours a day when a student does not have access to the less-unhealthy dining hall food. Enter Papa John’s delivery.
In addition, vegetarians often find themselves at a loss when dining on campus. Being a vegetarian is usually a conscious choice, so those that adopt this lifestyle are aware of the limitations they face when eating outside of their homes. It’s unfortunate, however, that vegetarians face even more repetitive choices in the dining hall than meat-eaters: salads from the salad bar, veggie burgers from the grill, rice and vegetables (that sometimes get replaced by the not-so-vegetarian chicken Caesar salad) from the TerraVe stand, and pasta from the Trattoria – as long as it’s not available only with meat sauce.
Commuters are also at a disadvantage when it comes to eating. They may opt for the commuter dining hall plan – 5 meals a week – but it costs $727 a semester ($777 minus the $50 Dining Dollars that come with the plan). If you figure 15 weeks a semester, a total of 75 weekdays, that works out to be $9.69 a day, a bit more than a student would spend for a meal at any other eatery on campus. Granted, the all-you-can-eat dining hall meals should cost more than a quickie at Burger King, but if a student stops simply to get a sandwich, or if the student only needs to buy lunch two or three times a week, the cost is too high.
If a commuter does not choose to purchase the meal plan and can’t bring a bag lunch from home – something many commuters won’t do because it would involve getting up much too early in the morning, traffic and all – then he or she can hit the Food Court, the Rathskeller, Starbucks or the food kiosks on campus several times a week for not-so-nutritious munchies.
No one expects University food to rival homemade delights, and UM’s dining services are admittedly quite good, especially when compared to dining halls in other universities. However, there is always room for improvement. Fellow members of the ACC like Duke and FSU, for example, have 24-hour diners, according to their websites. When SG managed to open the C-Store 24 hours, there was little student interest, but maybe this would change if there was a place to eat as well as hang out, sit and chat.
Miami is a city, so students do have the possibility of eating off campus and crossing U.S. 1 for sushi or Denny’s. It would be nice, though, to have somewhere to eat right here at UM on Sunday besides the dining halls, Sbarro, Subway and the budding example of freshness that is the C-Store (where, on a side note, the removal of Krispy Kreme doughnuts has upset some students). We’d like having more late-at-night dining options that would not entail drunken students driving to McDonald’s. And, although establishing a 24-hour dining facility would be costly, it would be less expensive and just as beneficial enough to extend the Food Court hours (it currently opens until 4 p.m. on Fridays and is closed on weekends).
The contract with Chartwells was renegotiated this year, so we’ll have to wait for changes to take place in the dining halls, but Wendy’s will replace Burger King and the Coffee Company next summer, and maybe that will lead to longer hours in the Food Court. Yet, this will only happen if typically passive students show an interest in going to these eateries. None of our late-night benefits, if and when we get any, will last if we don’t actually take advantage of what’s available to us. So instead of going off campus, save yourself the drive and eat up – on campus.