This Wednesday, Oct. 18, the university held a celebration of Brandeis’ 75th anniversary in Sherman Dining Hall. The event featured an abundance of blue balloons, party hats and Brandeis-themed cupcakes. Most notably, the dessert counter featured a full three-tiered chocolate fountain, an ice sculpture in the shape of the number 75 and a massive flower-adorned cake (as pictured in our Week in Photos page). This rather extravagant celebration, paired with the mediocre-as-usual Sherman food, only highlighted how lackluster the dining services have been this semester.
In an earlier editorial, written at the beginning of the semester, we talked in part about how dining on campus had a weak start to the academic year, and now that we are more or less at the halfway point, it seems that this thread has continued. Yes, the Stein now accepts meal exchanges, but the food quality at the Sherman and Usdan dining halls is still usually lacking. Wok This Way, the newest food vendor at the Hive in Upper Usdan, has only recently opened, and the smoothie station there is still completely non-operational.
The most notable of these dining mishaps is the lack of usual plates, bowls and silverware in the Lower Usdan dining hall. For around a month, the dining hall where many students like to have lunch or dinner between their classes on Upper Campus has been using compostable paper plates, recyclable cups for drinks (plastic for cold drinks and paper for hot drinks) and disposable plastic silverware. Due to what students are told is a dishwasher malfunction (which has been ongoing since mid-September), we have had to dispose of our plates and silverware after meals. Despite all of these utensils requiring different types of disposal methods, like recycling and compost, students are only provided with garbage bins placed near the dining hall exit.
This means that the hundreds of utensils used by students dining in Usdan every day are seemingly being completely disposed of rather than washed and reused. This situation poses strong environmental concerns, and contrasts heavily with other efforts the university has made in recent years to become more environmentally friendly.
So, while Brandeis spends money on a chocolate fountain and over-the-top celebrations in Sherman one night while food remains mediocre and other services are running on fumes, it’s understandable that students respond with frustration. Something can also be said about how the contrast between the 75th anniversary dinner and the quality of dining services is reflective of the university’s willingness to present itself as thriving while operating on below-bare minimum quality under the surface.