High budget education, low budget dining at Butler

While Butler was ranked on The Princeton Review’s “Best 384 Colleges” list, it also earned a spot on the “Is it Food?” list. Recently, the school announced new changes to campus dining options. Collegian file photo.


Much to our administration’s annoyance, Butler students love to complain about the food we are provided. I mean, is it really that bad, or do we all just relate over this shared angst?

Of course, we didn’t agree to pay tuition because of Butler’s terrible food. We all came here for different and more important reasons. So, why complain about it as much as we do?

The fact of the matter is, food is critical to one’s health — mental and physical — and we shouldn’t have to sacrifice our well-being for a degree, especially when we are paying thousands of dollars a year for it.

Say we eat three full meals a day every day the dining halls are open — let’s be honest, most of us probably don’t — that would mean that each meal costs approximately $11.

Although an individual meal is not enough to break the bank, when you consider that first years alone pay more than $4 million an academic year on dining, it is unsurprising the student body is so frustrated by the awful dining hall quality.

Recently, The Princeton Review released its annual college and university rankings for 2019, chiming in on Butler’s great food issue.

While Butler made the “Best 384 Colleges” list for the first time this year, as well as the “Best Midwestern” list, it also earned a spot on a more disparaging, student-rating based list called “Is it Food?”

The title of this list implies Butler’s food is barely edible, something I would hope the Butler administration would take seriously. And it actually seems like they might.

After last year’s bug crisis — yes, first years, there was a bug crisis — and the subsequent reaction by students, the administration provided encouraging communication that they are working to improve campus dining quality and options.

At the end of the 2018 spring semester, Frank Ross, vice president of student affairs, sent an email to the student body outlining the actions being taken to address student concerns.

“A recent Collegian article addressed the quality of dining services on campus,” the statement read. “Please know the situation discussed there does not represent the type of experience we want for our students. We take this matter very seriously, and the University took immediate action.”

The email also referenced steps taken to address food quality such as meetings and inspections with Butler’s food service partner, Aramark, as well as a student dining survey.

Additionally, on Aug. 24, Ross sent out another campus-wide email reiterating the changes in dining services and updating students on new information.

“We have worked with Aramark very closely in preparation for the fall semester to assure you that your dining experience will be better this year,” his email read.

While this communication and Ross’s apparent commitment to improving student life are encouraging, the expanded hours and enhanced menus referenced in his email do not necessarily mean improved food quality.

Sophomore communication and media studies major Meghan Singer said she recognizes Butler’s attempt to provide more variety and options for people with certain dietary restrictions, but is skeptical that the quality will actually improve.

“I can see that they’re trying to implement more options, which is good, but I feel like they need to focus more on making the quality more desirable,” Singer said.

She was also somewhat surprised by The Princeton Review’s ranking of Butler’s food.

“It’s embarrassing to the University, especially because wellness is so big here,” Singer said. 

Sophomore multilingual studies and international business major Gabrielle Arnold just transferred to Butler from University of Notre Dame. She expressed how much of an adjustment it’s been transitioning to Butler’s food full-time.

“My biggest complaint with it is that there’s not many healthy options. I was very, very privileged from my last school. Notre Dame has a really good food program. They have multiple dining halls that have a lot of options. I knew there would be less here because it’s a way smaller school, but there just aren’t many options at all.”

However, as a new student here, Arnold said she is optimistic Butler will begin to provide healthier options, especially after Ross’s email.

“I’m hopeful about the fresh fruit,” Arnold said. “I’m still holding my breath about Atherton’s entree options.”

In spite of her optimism, Arnold wasn’t surprised Butler found its way onto the 2019 “Is it Food?” list.

Regardless of students’ general dissatisfaction with Butler’s dining options and the university’s negative food reputation, the administration has provided encouraging communication that they are working to respond to students and improve campus dining quality and options.

Whether or not the administration can maintain this momentum is another issue. Student accountability — sometimes in the form of student-rating based lists like The Princeton Review’s — is crucial right now, and it should put pressure on the university to correct its shortcomings.

We don’t need more TVs in Atherton, we need appetizing food.


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