During my first year at Duke, I ripped through my food points faster than Spongebob did his trousers. But as we all well know, our dining options have been rather lackluster as of late. And while The Marketplace may have left a bad taste in my mouth, our viable food choices may soon turn sour.
According to the current statistics of a recent poll found on DSG’s Fix My Campus Facebook page, over 89 percent of the 319 students polled said that they were dissatisfied with the current dining options available to students. Now, this percentage is not at all a fair depiction of the student body’s conjecture, nor might it actually reflect the true opinion of the voter, but the message students are sending is clear: They want dining to improve. For good reason, too—our current food options no longer measure up to their former glory. Take, for example, the pitiful quality of the Events Pavilion’s burrito station, which is almost an insult to the splendor that was Armadillo Grill. With portions sized for infants and a taste reminiscent of Gerber baby food, it should come as a shock to you that milk has been so hard to find these days.
Many other great food options have been removed from campus, namely Chick-fil-A and Subway, among others. But as painful as this news was, the newest addition—the Events Pavilion—has become an equally painful reminder of the haunting memories that once plagued my first-year dining experience. But I must say, as much as I despise The Marketplace, they would at least try to mix it up! The chefs would brew up funky new soups or make semi-exotic pizzas every now and again. But for upperclassmen, we no longer have that same luxury this time around. Unlike The Marketplace, every time I walk into the Events Pavilion, I know exactly what to expect—and I’m not excited about it. Remember the burrito station I mentioned earlier? Well, in the off-chance that the Events Pavilion deserves my parents’ hard-earned income, I’ll actually just grab a burrito and douse it in Sriracha, it’s pretty much the only thing I can bear to eat. But that’s not to say the burrito is any good. It’s still awful. The fact that I even consider eating there at all speaks volumes about the food selection on campus.
It makes perfect sense that Duke is working to expand on the most successful eateries and improve them in the long-term, but as a consequence, we, as students, are suffering in the short-term. While the current restaurants on campus do provide quality meals, they still fail to adequately satisfy the needs of us all. Students are in need of more healthy food options, as fruits and vegetables both have overpriced costs and little variety. While the addition of Red Mango was a nice touch, far too many valuable food options have been cut out of the equation for it to be a worthy tradeoff.
Furthermore, during peak hours, Pitchfork Provisions, Au Bon Pain and The Loop have absurdly long wait times and are incredibly congested. Au Bon Pain actually has recently expanded into the Bryan Center Plaza with a Grab-n-Go cart, which will likely prove especially useful for reducing the consistently long wait times during the day. On one hand, I and many students like myself have always considered these places the best eateries on campus. On the other hand, should these other eating establishments have sufficed as meritorious eating facilities in the first place, such congestion would cease to exist. And quite frankly, the other food options are not nearly strong enough alternatives. Worthy selections such as Blue Express and food trucks have less-than-convenient hours, and the new eateries are hardly worth a passing glance. The Events Pavilion didn’t meet its anticipated quota of customers earlier this month for one simple reason: The food is just not good enough. It’s only a matter of time before the Bryan Center Plaza closes—and when it does, the Pavilion will be in big trouble. If there was ever a time that Miley Cyrus should come in like a wrecking ball, this would be most opportune.
But there’s still hope. We need to continue communicating with administrators and student groups to bring back Duke’s dining prestige. The measures that Duke administrators have been taking, however, have yet to fulfill their purpose. But in all honesty, I’m grateful that they are working so hard to make things better for us, no matter how claustrophobic things get or how demanding we are. As bad as things may seem now, rest assured that Duke dining is not dying. But, I think we can all agree on one thing—we just want good food options back on campus.
Bryan Somaiah is a Trinity sophomore. His column runs every other Thursday. Send Bryan a message on Twitter @BSomaiahChron.