During breaks in the school year, the Student Union turns into a desert. A tumbleweed can be seen if you squint a bit and the lights are low, I assume. This winter break, only Subway was open.
As delicious as a sandwich can be, meals lose their charm when they’re your only option for weeks on end. Students without cars have to rely on friends to take them to the store or to restaurants. Residents with cars have to buy their own groceries or spend more money to eat out every day.
All of which is fine, if you ignore the fact that the university has a mandatory meal plan for students who live on campus, and that Hardesty, Fisher West Suites and LaFortune remain open over the breaks. Campus as a whole might shut down, but the metabolism of students does not. If a meal plan is required when living on campus, students should be able to use that meal plan every day that residence halls are open.
Carlie Wiseley, a junior communication major and residence life staff member, finds the lack of food over breaks inconvenient, noting the University of Tulsa’s high international student population, many of whom stay on campus over breaks and must go off of campus to find their food.
Freshman Madison Connell had similar feelings. “I’m fortunate enough to have a car to drive and some extra cash set aside to eat out,” she explained, referring to her time spent on campus over winter break, “but I have some friends that were stuck with no money and no ride.”
Connell went on to talk about a friend stuck at school over break and their disbelief over the lack of food. “I really think that TU should consider either having a reduced cafeteria or some more options at ACAC open for students.”
Madison Connell and her friends are not alone in their thoughts on food availability over winter break. Oklahoma State University and the University of Oklahoma keep many of their on-campus restaurants open during their winter breaks.
Clearly, food scarcity over breaks is not the same on all campuses.
While both colleges are much larger than the University of Tulsa, our system ought to be able to work in similar ways, just adjusted for size. Failing that, there are a number of ways that the university could better provide opportunities for student dining when the university is not fully operational.
Food availability could be improved through more restaurants open for longer during breaks, or the cafeteria offering limited meals. To be more cost-efficient, the school could implement a limited meal plan for winter break, which they already did for Thanksgiving break this year. Residents could sign up in advance for a given amount of meals, and pick up the meals from the Student Union at the beginning of break.
No unnecessary meals are made and then thrown out, residents have the option of remaining on campus to eat without having to worry about weather conditions or how to get to their food and only minor adjustments have to be made to the system as it currently stands. If residents wanted other food, that would still be an option for them, but the university would have made an effort to accommodate those staying on campus and in need of a meal that isn’t ramen.