This week marks the beginning of “Celebrating Our Bodies Week”—highlighting the pressure that both men and women face when it comes to physical appearance and self-consciousness. This week also coincides with National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. While Duke’s efforts to “celebrate our bodies” with messages like “You are beautiful” are important, the university should also introduce changes to its dining plan to help students develop normal eating habits. Like many other universities, Duke faces a prevalence of disordered eating among students. But, unlike other campuses, it offers few healthy eating options.
From the moment we step on Duke’s campus as freshmen, the strange dining plan creates a frenzy of confusion—a limit of five marketplace dinners a week, skipping breakfast to save food points for lunch, scavenging for an option other than Marketplace for dinner, so we are guaranteed brunch on the weekends. I remember my shock when a faculty member advised us during O-week to check calendars for free-food events to save our Marketplace swipes. Seriously? The last thing any college student should have to worry about is when, where, or whether to have dinner. There is absolutely no reason Duke should not guarantee all students food every day and for every meal.
Additionally, the upperclassman’s “eat out” dining system propagated by Duke is by no means a normal or healthy way to have meals. Students cannot choose their portions or simply go back for more food without a fee. Duke’s “Merchants on Points” system causes students to eat out of takeout containers, plastic, and Styrofoam, instead of eating at tables with plates, glasses, and silverware. The food options on campus do not represent the values that meals should bring—community, conversation, and shared time. Instead, students often resort to eating in isolation. Eating is yet to be a healthy part of our lives at Duke.
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