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On the recent changes to Brandeis Dining Services

On the recent changes to Brandeis Dining Services

By Zach Phil Schwartz

Section: Featured, Opinions

September 2, 2016

Before the start of this academic year, Brandeis Dining plastered campus eateries with big posters detailing changes to the dining roster made over the summer, pulled together with a big line made in WordArt saying, “We’ve Been Busy!” The announcement can be summed up by a sadly ironic line on the poster that reads, “NEW HOURS FOR YOUR DINING CONVENIENCE,” for the word “convenient” or any sense of the word belongs nowhere near this announcement.

In my time working Opinions for The Brandeis Hoot, I’ve seen my fair share of pieces blasting Sodexo and Brandeis Dining for one reason or another. I fear that to continue to chastise these services would render this section no more than cliché. With this in mind I have tried to avoid writing about Sodexo and Brandeis Dining. After seeing this announcement for the first time in all of its ludicrousness, however, I am breaking habit and plainly saying that the changes made to Brandeis’ dining are entirely nonsensical and benefit no student.

I say this perhaps out of bitterness that the Dunkin Donuts I often frequented when I lived in the Village is no longer in service (especially with me living there again, this time almost on top of the establishment). I will concede that this closure and moving of Dunkin makes some sense, as it will most definitely get more traffic at Upper Usdan—but at what cost? Only someone with inside knowledge of the situation at hand will be able to definitively say what will happen to the space Dunkin occupied, and I will be the first to admit that I am not someone with such information.

Perhaps my lack of inside knowledge precludes me from knowing the true reasoning behind these changes, but it does not take inside knowledge to know that closing Lower Usdan at 2:30 p.m. on Fridays until re-opening on Monday morning represents a real pain for students living in North, East or the Castle or for the many students traversing upper campus at any given time.

The Oxford Dictionary defines the word “convenience” as “the state of being able to proceed with something with little effort or difficulty.” In no way does closing Lower Usdan at a waning lunch hour on Friday afternoon for the entire weekend qualify as convenient for anybody, especially to those who rely on the Simple Servings area of that dining hall.

Some will remember that Louis’ Deli at the entrance of Upper Usdan was open until midnight on most days of the week last year. Now, for your dining convenience, it will be closing at 9:00 p.m., Sunday through Thursday. Something doesn’t quite add up. For our convenience, the powers that be have diminished the Deli (a pivotal location for Kosher fare in upper campus) hours. This does not suit the definition of “convenience” listed above. Nobody can proceed with getting Kosher food on campus after 9:00 p.m. (Sherman closes then) with ease, or at all for that matter.

What concerns me most about the changes announced is that there was no clear reason or explanation given for any of what happened. The poster just thanked the reader for their ideas and input, as if people would just ignore that dining has now become an inconvenience just because a piece of cardboard or a PDF said that this was the result of student opinion. I am and will remain skeptical that a significant amount of students (significant enough to justify these changes) wanted to inconvenience themselves by closing a dining hall, moving a coffee shop and constraining eatery hours, until Brandeis Dining releases information (a pre-implementation survey would work) that would prove me wrong.

I am not out to chastise or demonize Sodexo or Brandeis Dining, and I appreciate their efforts to engage with students and work constructively, respectfully and professionally with their staff. I do not want to bite the figurative hand that literally feeds me. I just want to know why they are parading new inconveniences to the dining roster and schedule as convenient (they’re not) and telling me that this is the result of student opinion without proof.

I have been at Brandeis for four semesters, and this feels like my fifth article about dining. To write about this subject any more would just serve to make it even more cliché. To all parties of Brandeis Dining: Be transparent, tell us the truth, be just, don’t dress inconvenience as convenience and leave the damn Dunkin where it is.

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