Den shouldn’t have changed

Lucy Hough

Last semester, the North Wind staff went to the Wildcat Den after stressful Friday meetings to relax, laugh, and be ourselves without the burden of what we might have done wrong in that week’s paper. It was a chance for us to be more than coworkers. We became friends with the same passions and learned a lot about each other during those lunches.

Unfortunately this semester, weekly get-togethers at the Den aren’t really an option. With the new all-you-can-eat mandate, we don’t make enough money (nor have the appetite) for such a huge meal. Our staff opts out of having to pay $7.95 for a Den lunch when previously they could have purchased just a grilled cheese for little more than three dollars.

The change was made in order to prevent theft from the Den, as previously people were easily walking out with food in hand. While, understandably, this is a problem that has to be rectified, there must be a way to prevent theft without forcing people to pay for an all-you-can-eat meal. This change has completely changed the dynamic of the dining facility, turning the once informal and easy eatery into an exclusive cafeteria, a place that reminds me of times I prefer to forget, like high school or living in the dorms.

Admittedly, the North Wind did run an editorial in the summer edition stating that Dining Services made a good decision in making the switch. Now, fully realizing the consequences of this change, I have to disagree with that. The promises that Dining Services made are not being delivered. The bookstore cart’s options pale in comparison with the Den’s variety. Every time I have been to the bookstore, the person working the cart is standing in a corner looking incredibly bored.

The University Center is a unique building on campus because it attracts a variety of people from throughout the university and community. The change in the Den makes the eatery in this versatile building less inviting.

No longer can people go to the Den to relax and do homework with friends or meet up with a professor to discuss their performance in class; now, the only way would involve forking over $7.95 instead of just enjoying a coffee in the middle of the day.

Charging on-campus students so much for a meal is one thing, especially when oftentimes they must have meal plans that make the day-to-day cost a little easier. But professors, staff and even off-campus residents who frequent the University Center should be trusted enough to purchase what they like and only that. It feels as though Dining Services is alienating the very people the Den once catered to.

Last week, after our staff’s first Friday meeting of the semester, I encouraged the new editors to come down to the Den for a quick meal, and all of them declined, not having the money. It’s disappointing seeing the dynamic of our staff and the U.C.’s eateries changing so frivolously. I hope Dining Services can find a way to eliminate theft without charging me $7.95 for a grilled cheese.