Senior Julia Medine is the co-chair of the Duke University Student Dining Advisory Committee, which works with Dining Services to connect students with administrators, staff and vendors. The Chronicle spoke with Medine to discuss the freshman meal plan, as well as the ins and outs of dining at Duke and in Durham. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
The Chronicle: What advice do you have for first-years about eating on campus at Duke?
Julia Medine: When I think about what I would have told myself as a freshman, I would say that the freshman experience involves a lot of discovery and adventure and food should not be left out of that. I see exploring Duke’s food scene as an orientation of its own. I would say don't be afraid to try something new every day during your first few months here. Of course it’s good to develop comfortable and healthy habits, but exploring Duke’s food scene is not only a great way to meet new people, but also a great way to understand Duke and its relationship to Durham, because Duke’s food scene and food culture involves a lot of local vendors.
TC: If you were going to introduce first-years to the main eateries on campus, where would you take them?
JM: I would say visiting the [Richard H. Brodhead Center for Campus Life] is an important one because it’s not only new, but also a big part of food at Duke. The dining department worked for years on this to make it the center of food on campus. Although I would say it’s tough, because I think that for freshmen who have to economize on food points, [the Brodhead Center] makes that a little bit harder.
I also think that I would introduce freshmen to Cafe Edens because twenty-four-hour eating is such an important part of college. And then, I am sure with or without me, that freshmen would be introduced to Vondy in [Perkins Library].
TC: How should first-years make the most of their meal plan?
JM: I think that the best way to economize your food points would be to first find the places that are convenient to your routes on campus and then to find the best deals at those places.
I would like to mention that DUSDAC this semester is launching a food news email blast, and the goal of that is to foster more communication between on-campus vendors and students. One of the big parts of that email is going to be talking about new deals that vendors are offering, whether they’re temporary, permanent or seasonal, whether they’re lunch specials or random discounts. I would definitely recommend that freshmen sign up for that.
I think that the guides and online charts that tell you how many food points you need to spend each week--following those religiously is not a bad idea.
I also think it’s important to mention that a lot of students are able to add extra food points and a lot of students are not, so it’s important as a freshman to be mindful of the fact that not everyone around you is in the same [financial] situation. For freshmen, it’s important to be sensitive to what’s around you and whether or not the people around you may or may not be flexible in terms of what they can [spend].
TC: Many first-years try to save food points by bringing tupperware to Marketplace. What’s your opinion on this practice?
JM: I can’t speak on behalf of Duke Dining and I can’t speak on behalf of DUSDAC. Personally, I think it’s a great way to save food and I certainly did so.
TC: Do you have any recommendations for places for first-years to eat off of campus?
JM: So many! Bull City Burger, NanaTaco, Monuts and Q Shack all come to mind immediately. I would also go to Dos Perros, Pompieri Pizza—I have a million I could list off.
TC: Is there anything else first-years should know about eating at Duke and in Durham?
JM: My main thing I would tell freshmen or that I would give to freshmen is the desire to try new things!