Campus quirks: Chartwells still tastes funky

“Where tomorrow’s leaders eat yesterday’s leftovers.” -comedian Steve Hofstetter, on college dining halls

Living on campus is a lot like living in a run-down apartment complex. One of the suites I inhabited had all the characteristics of your standard South Florida apartment: located right next to a major traffic venue (in my case, U.S. 1 and the Metrorail), dusty, filled with bugs, loaded with appliances and plumbing in various states of disrepair and strange tenants. However, unless you live (or know someone who lives) in the apartment area or the 6th floor of Mahoney, your cell, sorry, room/suite, mate will lack a key component of apartment living-a kitchen.

We all know what this means. It leaves us with two options in terms of getting food, which I will go through in detail. The first option is to go to a dining hall. The good people at Chartwells have provided two conveniently located dining halls, one near Stanford-Hecht and one near Mahoney-Pearson. Let’s say you walk to the Stanford facility. Assuming it’s not closed, you walk in and, with any luck, won’t be greeted by the manager with a big hip and an exponentially bigger sense of disdain and contempt for all students, especially hungry students who’ve lost their ‘Cane Cards.

Then, you pick up your tray and utensils, and decide to get a stir fry-then you see the line. You turn towards the pizza booth-and see an even bigger line. You don’t even consider the grill. Apparently, there are a lot of masochistic students out there, no matter what time of day it is. Starving, you simply progress to the shortest line-after all, you’re not getting any less hungry. You spot the menu: chicken parmesan and herb stuffing, which sounds delicious. You get your meal, a salad and a drink and sit down to enjoy what seems like a scrumptious and filling meal.

Unfortunately, you’re quickly reminded that you’re eating at Chartwells, not the Olive Garden. The chicken tastes funky, to say the least. After gulping down your first bite, you stare at the chicken (which most definitely died in vain) and notice it’s not exactly “white meat.” You quickly wash down the aftertaste with your drink and decide to munch on your salad instead. It’s not much help, as you’ll now be tasting pesticide for the next couple of hours. You set aside the raw chicken and chemically soaked lettuce and embrace your only alternative: Eat a bowl of cereal and a donut before proceeding to the restroom, where you’ll have plenty of time to reflect on the processed gunk you just ate. You endlessly ponder how they can possibly pass it off as food.

Or, you could try your second option: go to the Rat and get a buffalo wing combo for about the same price a meal at Chartwells costs (about $8). You can even order a pitcher of beer, relax on the gliders and bask in the peace of mind that comes from knowing you won’t get food poisoning there.

Now, if only meals and dining dollars were interchangeable.

Jay Rooney can be contacted at