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The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Students react to Campus Dining changes

Claire Barnett
Vanderbilt on Saturday, August 18, 2018. (Photo by Claire Barnett)

Campus Dining has made significant changes beginning this academic year, to which students have expressed strong reactions.

Some of the major changes in Rand have included the creation of 2301 (replacing Pi and Leaf) which offers allergen-friendly meals, the conversion of Chef James to the Grill, and installing Mongolian bowls and pasta stations during lunch. The changes emphasis a move towards allowing students to customize their meals, Campus Dietitian Meredith Williams previously said.

A common criticism from students was a decrease in portion sizes across campus dining. Students also reported lack of options.

Many of the changes are a result of Vanderbilt’s initiatives to provide healthier options while also making dining more sustainable. Below, students share their thoughts on the Campus Dining this year.


[aesop_image img=”” align=”center” lightbox=”off” caption=”Jason Scott, second-year” captionposition=”left” revealfx=”off” overlay_revealfx=”off”]

“I feel like in Rand there’s a variety in the new options that we’ve implemented in the Campus Dining,” Scott said. “Although there are more options and more variety than there was in the past, because a lot of these things have to be cooked to order, it causes it to be very congested during the dining times. So, therefore, no one is able really to get food in an orderly time so it wastes times and everything is backed up and the options that they have now aren’t good. In theory, you would think that they would be better but they’re not. The way that they’re prepared, they’re not good and they’re not up to the standards that they thought they would be when Campus Dining implemented them.”

[aesop_image img=”” align=”center” lightbox=”off” caption=”Alex Haft, third-year
” captionposition=”left” revealfx=”off” overlay_revealfx=”off”]

“Living on Highland, we’re not really near anything except the only in-dorm munchie that isn’t open 24/7,” Haft said. “My biggest thing is that the meal periods are just ridiculous. Very few college kids eat on a consistent schedule, so it’s unrealistic to think that people will eat within the same narrow time windows every day.”

[aesop_image img=”” align=”center” lightbox=”off” caption=”Joe Huang, fourth-year” captionposition=”center” revealfx=”off” overlay_revealfx=”off”]

“One thing I do miss is Chef James,” Huang said. “That’s a big thing I miss. Rand is getting old really fast for me, it’s the same thing everyday. I’m glad EBI is all you can eat, it’s a nice option. It’s cool to have, sometimes you just want to have one big meal and go on with my day. Also, Pub and Grins are the only two things open late. I have a pretty late eating schedule, and I don’t like eating random munchie mart stuff.”

[aesop_image img=”” align=”center” lightbox=”off” caption=”Riko Lee, third-year” captionposition=”center” revealfx=”off” overlay_revealfx=”off”]

“With the cap on rollover money for the semester, I am actively losing money,” Lee said. “A majority of the food offered doesn’t necessarily fit my diet, is unappealing or is available at inconvenient hours. I cook a majority of my food myself in Towers so do not feel a need to eat in the dining halls. I wish there was an option to have only flex meals and meal money – but they have taken those away. I am at a loss of what to do and mostly donate my swipes to hurricane relief or students who need one. It seems unfair that I have to pay for a service that I am not utilizing.”

[aesop_image img=”” align=”center” lightbox=”off” caption=”Kelly Santiago, second-year” captionposition=”center” revealfx=”off” overlay_revealfx=”off”]

“I think the quality of Campus Dining is significantly less this year than last year,” Santiago said. “The serving sizes are obviously smaller, and it seems like there’s less choices, too.”

[aesop_image img=”” align=”center” lightbox=”off” caption=”Surya Gangavarapu, second-year
” captionposition=”left” revealfx=”off” overlay_revealfx=”off”]

“The new serving sizes are not providing sufficient calories or protein for my daily intake,” Gangavarapu said. “Also, the lines have been so long that I’ve been forced to eat virtually the same things every day if I want to have some time to eat.”

[aesop_image img=”” align=”center” lightbox=”off” caption=”Erin Hatch, third-year” captionposition=”center” revealfx=”off” overlay_revealfx=”off”]


“Campus dining is currently very focused on cutting costs. They are not taking into consideration how their changes are affecting students,” Hatch said. “I was not allowed to use a to-go box for my chicken because I was not getting an entree and a side. As a student with allergies, the only thing I could get was the chicken and when I asked if I could have a box, she said ‘no’. I said ‘So I am supposed to carry my chicken to my dorm in a cup’ and she said ‘yes’. Campus dining used to be a place that worked with me on a daily basis so ensure that I had access to food that fits my diet and allergies, gluten and dairy. Now, I don’t even try and use the allergy system because they have streamlined and standardized everything in order to save money which leaves less room for alterations to food and leaves me feeling as if I am bothering the staff or messing up their schedule.”

[aesop_image img=”” align=”center” lightbox=”off” caption=”Sebastian Bond, first-year” captionposition=”center” revealfx=”off” overlay_revealfx=”off”]

“I think they need to have more meat options and less carbs. A lot of people want to eat more protein,” Bond said. “They also need to switch up the options in Commons and Rand. I think they could come up with more interesting choices with different styles and cuisines.”

[aesop_image img=”” align=”center” lightbox=”off” caption=”Romy Pein, second-year
” captionposition=”center” revealfx=”off” overlay_revealfx=”off”]

“Doing a club sport makes it really hard to eat sufficient healthy calories during the day,” Pein said. “Besides Pub and sometimes Rand lunch, there’s not enough food that’s both filling and nutritious for people that exercise intensely six days a week.”

[aesop_image img=”” align=”center” lightbox=”off” caption=”Gerrica Alexander, third-year” captionposition=”center” revealfx=”off” overlay_revealfx=”off”]

“I’m glad that they’re trying to listen to student requests,” Alexander said. “I know that there is a lot of backlash about how things changed, and now they’re trying to appeal to our desires. They’re trying, so that’s good.”

[aesop_image img=”” align=”center” lightbox=”off” caption=”Jenna Lawrence, first-year” captionposition=”left” revealfx=”off” overlay_revealfx=”off”]

“The food is better than expected,” Lawrence said. “I thought it would be a lot worse, but the lines are a lot worse. I’m also never satisfied [with portion sizes].”


[aesop_image img=”” align=”center” lightbox=”off” caption=”Nnenna Nwaezeapu, second-year” captionposition=”center” revealfx=”off” overlay_revealfx=”off”]

“I think the changes are horrible,” Nwaezeapu said. “I think it’s great that they changed the Rand Cookies back but I think all the dining options make rand so much slower, like i stay in line for 45 extra minutes. They cut the seasoning budget, so all the food tastes bad. It didn’t taste great last year, but now, it’s even worse.”

[aesop_image img=”” align=”center” lightbox=”off” caption=”Tessa Phillips, fourth-year” captionposition=”center” revealfx=”off” overlay_revealfx=”off”]


“I’m a senior and I don’t see the point in having a meal plan,” Phillips said. “It’s too expensive to be realistic when living off campus, and since it’s no longer required I cancelled it as soon as I could. Also there aren’t the best vegetarian options daily on campus so I would rather cook for myself or pick up food from a restaurant that actually tastes good and is worth my money.”

[aesop_image img=”” align=”center” lightbox=”off” caption=”Cole Bloomfield, second year” captionposition=”center” revealfx=”off” overlay_revealfx=”off”]

“I appreciate how student dining has been taking student feedback throughout the year so far,” Bloomfield said. “However, I still find it very disappointing that the quality of food in our main dining halls–Rand, Commons– is still not of great quality.”

[aesop_image img=”” align=”center” lightbox=”off” caption=”Jacob Wilentz, second-year” captionposition=”left” revealfx=”off” overlay_revealfx=”off”]

“I love the campus dining at Vanderbilt, but I don’t love some of the changes made this year,” Wilentz said. “Flex meals were really important to me, and I miss having the option to grab an extra meal when necessary. I haven’t really noticed [food changes] that much. I noticed how they changed the water cups at Rand. I feel like it’s a great solution to be greener.”

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About the Contributors
Rachel Friedman
Rachel Friedman, Former Editor in Chief
Rachel Friedman was a student in the College of Arts & Science who studied history and mathematics. Before serving as Editor in Chief, Rachel was the Campus Editor of The Hustler. You can reach her at [email protected].
Claire Barnett, Former Multimedia Director

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