F&M student voices opinion on dining, living quality on campus

By Ethan Carlson || Contributing Writer

I’ve got a bone to pick. As a paying student at Franklin & Marshall, I’d like to expect some things. The first, is good food. I’m not asking for anything crazy, but I want to be able to look forward to eating my meals at F&M facilities. This, sadly, has never been the case, as the food at Franklin and Marshall is so subpar, that the letter D in D-Hall might as well just stand for Disappointment. Frankly put, I’ve had better meals while sitting in a hospital cafeteria, while on a Ryanair flight, and while visiting gramps at the assisted living home. Again, this isn’t to say that a student won’t find some of the food tolerable or even likable, but the fact remains that I have never heard anyone speak of the food here in a positive manner. While the food remains terrible, it must be maintained that the Sodexo employees themselves are not at fault as they are simply working with what they are given, which are low quality ingredients. While they perform this task amiably, it’s hard to turn crap into something anyone would want to eat.

However, there are three positive aspects of the F&M dining experience: The first is that many of the Sodexo employees are great people. The Zime ladies are the sweetest people on the planet, the stir fry guys crack jokes, and the ones behind the counter are always easy to get along with. The second positive aspect is that it is convenient to eat on campus. Yet, gas station food is convenient too, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be regretting it three miles down the road. The third positive aspect of F&M dining is that it makes mom’s cooking seem that much better during breaks. Adding to the failure, the tuition for this school is massive, with the two main dining plans alone costing a little over $2,600 a semester, making each meal come out to about $10. I am certainly not alone when I say that each meal isn’t worth the price when the quality is also considered. This is made even more ridiculous by the fact that first-years and sophomores are forced to have these meal plans, presumably to keep the service in business, as nobody in their right mind would pay to eat at Franklin & Marshall facilities every day on their own accord. When students would rather go hungry or pay for an uber that will take them to literally anywhere else that sells food, there is certainly a problem in quality.

The second expectation any student at Franklin and Marshall should have is that they will have a nice place to live. While the student body is wonderful, which makes dorm halls feel like tight-knit families, the dorms themselves are lacking. While the luckiest students are housed in New House (The luxury country club of F&M), the rest of us are shacked up in places like Thomas (which has the build and facilities of a nuclear submarine), Ware (the grimiest of all the residences until its much-needed renovation), and Schnader (which, aside from the mildew and weird smells, isn’t all that bad). The bathrooms are kept relatively clean for a college, and Facilities and Operations does an excellent job responding to the students’ problems.        

However, a student still shouldn’t expect much from the living spaces. The beds are uncomfortable, so be sure to bring a mattress pad,  the rooms for the most part are tiny, so bring only what you really need, and the wifi is spottier than a leopard.

The third expectation, is to feel safe on campus. This is the only living standards expectation that Franklin and Marshall fully meets. The public safety officers are kind and helpful, making F&M’s campus feel safer than your bedroom back home through their constant patrols. While public safety officers are paid by an administration which wants to discourage any sort of party lifestyle (which in itself is ridiculous, as students here are among the hardest workers I’ve ever met), their conduct in this matter certainly isn’t their fault, as the people who want to turn Franklin and Marshall into a dry campus are the ones who sign their checks.

In my humble opinion, the lack of quality of Franklin and Marshall’s living standards comes down to poor resource allocation by the administration of F&M, and not the P-Safe officers, Sodexo employees, and F&O employees who work diligently every day to pick up their slack. It’s understandable that we aren’t eating five star quality food or living in castles, as F&M doesn’t have the kind of funding that a massive state school would have, but there certainly is a better solution than the current plan. Last semester, for example, the school bought enough blue lawn chairs so that one has to be careful not to trip over them on his way to class, when they could have spent that money on better food, beds, or minor renovations. This isn’t to say that the new chairs aren’t nice or appreciated, they’re just unnecessary as the old lawn chairs weren’t in disrepair, when Thomas is. Imagine for a minute that Franklin & Marshall is it’s own nation, with the students as its citizens, and the administration as its government. Students pay taxes (tuition) so that the government will provide them with services such as education, meals, living, public safety, maintenance, etc. If the government cannot provide a consistent quality of services, the people have a right to be angry, as their tax dollars are being misappropriated.  We don’t want special food events made by the same terrible food company, we want consistently good food. We don’t want more lawn chairs, we want rooms that don’t smell before we even unpack our bags. Finally, we just want the ice cream counter back at College Center, there was no reason to remove it to expand the salad section. I’ve seen zoos better run than Franklin and Marshall.

Sophomore Ethan Carlson is a contributing writer His email is ecarlso1@fandm.edu.

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