Opinion: Vanderbilt Campus Dining—my greatest enemy and my best friend: Why I stopped complaining about the long lines at Rand

Upon realizing the care put into my 2301 smoothies, I learned to stop complaining about Campus Dining.


Kelly Chang

2301 Kitchen (Photo by Kelly Chang)

Kelly Chang

One topic that never fails to slip into any conversation is Vanderbilt Campus Dining—particularly, on reasons why it sucks.  Whether it is about how Rand overplays Post Malone and Young Thug’s newest hit single, Goodbye, or the ice cubes disguised as sweet potatoes in our Rand Bowls, Vanderbilt Campus Dining has taken many hits from Vanderbilt students.  As for me, my personal pet peeve is the long lines: E.B.I. breakfast at 10 a.m., Rand at 2:30 p.m. and Grins at 6 p.m. However, as I returned to campus from Fall Break, my perspective on Campus Dining shifted. 

When I ordered my daily spinach, strawberry, raspberry, orange juice smoothie from 2301, smoothie connoisseur, Alice, asked me how the weather in Chicago was. 

“Chicago?” I doubted. 

“Yes, baby,” Alice replied as she tossed the cup of fruit into the blender. “You went to Chicago for the break, right?”

I did.  Before Fall Break, friends and professors had asked each other about their plans for the break, it was a formality. But upon my return from break, I realized that Alice had asked about my plans for the break only because she cared.  

Now transformed into a thick consistency, my smoothie looked ready.  But for Alice, it wasn’t good enough. Without hesitation, Alice poured water into the blend, and shook the blender until my 4-ingredient drink formed a perfectly smooth consistency.  Cautious of the delay I was creating, I turned around to check on the smoothie line, only to be confronted by the same long line. At that moment, I realized that it was not Vanderbilt Campus Dining to blame for the long lines I hated, but myself.  There are long lines at the dining halls because the Vanderbilt Dining Staff cares: the Vanderbilt Dining Staff cares enough to ask about our days and perfect our smoothies for us. And suddenly, the wait wasn’t too bad.

Quicker lines are not worth the quality and kindness of the dining workers, and this semester let’s start returning the favor by showing more gratitude and thanks towards the dining team.   

So today, I would like to apologize for complaining about the dining halls, and take the time to thank Vanderbilt’s wonderful Dining Staff— to thank Don for always keeping Branscomb Munchie alive at 2 a.m. with his great taste in music, to thank Terry for always finding and returning lost student IDs, to thank Wanda for her unbreakable smile, and to thank the rest of the team for being patient and keeping their promise to not only bring people together through food, but for also creating a sense of place and a feeling of kinship on campus.