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Sharples voted as the best restaurant on campus

in Columns/Opinions/Satire by

For the 53rd year, Sharples Dining Hall won the Best Cafeteria Award on Swarthmore’s campus. From food quality to sanitation, Sharples won first place in every category of judgment, easily beating out its competitors, a streak that has not been broken since 1964.

“We are so proud of our achievement,” Sharples staff, Sadie McDelu said. “I think what really sets us apart from our competitors is that we have menus that change on a daily basis, and the student response is usually really good. Our signature pasta bar especially is a signature menu that gives a meal at Sharples its reputation as a world-famous, top-quality dining experience.”

Critics largely attributed Sharples’ high rank to its customers’ loyalty to the restaurant. According to Anton Ego, food critic, after dining three times at Sharples, he noticed a remarkable repetition of the faces he saw at the dining hall. Excluding summer, when students are unable to eat at Sharples due to its closure, the dining hall is always full of people.

“You know a restaurant is good when you see that its customers keep coming back on a regular basis,” Ego said. “This is something that not every restaurant can easily achieved, and I applaud Sharples for being able to do what many restaurant owners only dream of.”

The announcement of the achievement came to no surprise for many students, who were ecstatic about Sharples’ record-breaking achievement.

“Sharples deserves this more than any other dining hall on our campus,” Elisa Nakayama ’19 said. “You don’t know how happy and amazed we are that Sharples has, for five decades, been able to clinch the top spot every single year despite such fierce competition. Once again, Sharples proved that it is second to none on our campus, and there is nobody who can deny that fact.”

In addition to the students, various Swarthmore alumni sent congratulatory messages as well via the alumni newsletter.

“Sharples is a blessing for Swarthmore,” Michael McMickey ’16 said. “During my time there, I loved Sharples so much that I ate all three of my meals there every day. In fact, it was so good that I always cried every time I ate there, even though I’ve been there so many times. I’ve even sharplifted several times and secretly stole food whenever it was so good. If there is one thing I really miss about Swarthmore, it is Sharples, especially its amazing pasta bar.”

In addition to its popularity, critics also cited Sharples’ gracious dining coupons for its customers. Named OneCard, in reference to the coupons’ reputation for always holding the top spot in its category, the system has been very customer friendly, even allowing for an option for customers to eat unlimited amount of times in the hall, if they wish to do so.

“Thanks to the unlimited meal plan, I can have Sharples whenever I want, however many times I want,” Nakayama said. “We didn’t have that last year and I was always so sad, because I would always be forced to eat at places like Bamboo Bistro to save up my meals. Bamboo is nothing compared to Sharples, and now that I am on the unlimited plan, I can have Sharples all day, every day!”

In the meantime, Sharples has once again been nominated for the Best Cafeteria award for 2018.

The Freshman Fifteen

in Op-Eds/Opinions by

It was a college reality, as ubiquitous as sexile, your first all-nighter, or the inevitable awkward encounter with your Screw date. And yet, as I entered Sharples, it was the only one that was real for me.

In the previous six months, I had lost over 20 pounds. My legs were sore from  hunching over the toilet in the only single-stall bathroom at work, watching bile and tears form swirling eddies that brought a strange sense of satisfaction and control to a girl who felt like everything was falling apart. I had refused rides home in favor of hours spent walking up and down and up and down grocery store aisles, examining labels on foods I had forbidden myself from eating and feeling a quiet power and also no power at all as the calories per serving marked double, triple what I was eating. My food log became my Bible. I watched meals diminish – from two eggs, to one egg, to an egg white, to a cup of coffee and a stick of gum (10 calories, if you buy Sugar-Free Extra and drink your coffee black). I had reveled in cold showers, because shivering burns more calories, and watched with mild fascination as my hair began to fall out and my image in the mirror began to distort. I had passed out in the middle of the work day.

In recovery, they tell you to give your eating disorder a name, an identity, to give the voices in your head a will of their own and separate them from the thoughts that are authentically yours. You sit through group therapy and individual therapy and art therapy and you sit at group meals and drink PediaSure if you can’t finish everything on your plate and you document your meals and watch a number of calories on the left side of the low end of the recommended range that to you seems astronomically, earth-shatteringly large enter your body and you talk about Ed. Ed, the voice inside your head that directs you to order salad, dressing on the side and sneers as you step off the treadmill. You quickly learn that he is much more difficult to quell than your hunger.

Through months of treatment, I learned to make his voice much, much softer. I learned that the signals of my body are more powerful and more important than the twisted, perverted dictator in my head. I learned that Ed is strong, but I am stronger.

But I also learned that Ed never really goes away. During my years in support group I watched women recover, finally having quelled Ed’s manipulative prohibitions, go off to college ready to kick ass and take names … and return, a few months later, having relapsed again.

As I stood in Sharples on that first day, I felt Ed stirring. I eyed pasta bar and limitless cereal and ice cream at every meal, and so did he. After years of meals regimented first by me and Ed and weight loss, and then by nutritionists and therapists and weight gain, I could eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted it.

So I should just have a salad, dressing on the side…right?

Recovery is always described as a journey. Most of the time, it feels like a battle. Ed is still here. Sometimes he is a whisper; sometimes, he is almost screaming. As the stress mounts (and, along with it, the stress eating), he becomes harder and harder to tune out. My relationship with food is still distorted. The difference is that now I recognize the warning signs. I know that Ed is not my friend — that his voice is not my voice. My first semester at Swarthmore has not been marked by a battle with the Freshman Fifteen, but by my battle with Ed.

If you are struggling with an eating disorder, you are not alone. 20 million women and 10 million men in the United States will develop an eating disorder at some point in their lifetime. Eating disorders are not about weight loss: they are intrinsically linked to control, perfection, and mental health. They are most likely to arise, or reemerge, in environments of stress, confusion, and intensity; the longer you wait, the harder it is to stop. If you feel yourself going down this path, I urge you to reach out. Make an appointment at CAPS, or find someone else you trust to talk to. The National Eating Disorder Association (www.nationaleatingdisorders.org) has 24/7 hotlines and additional information on treatment and recovery. Recovery is not easy, but it is possible. This month, during National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, marks one year since I left intensive treatment, since I recovered. I am grateful every day to wake up in a community as supportive as Swarthmore, and to know that even when Ed’s voice feels louder than my own, I am supported and I am not alone. I am far from perfect, but I am healthy, and I am here.

Visioning process report released

in Around Campus/News by

 

On Wednesday, Feb. 8, President Valerie Smith sent out an email announcing the release of the Student Experience Visioning Study Report that enumerated the conclusions of the almost year-long visioning process.

Starting at the end of the Spring 2016 semester, the college began collecting data and holding conversations with members of the Swarthmore community on how the student experience can be improved. During the Fall 2016 semester, the college began working with Bright Spot consultants to gain an outside perspective on how the college can improve student experiences on campus. Although Bright Spot contributed to the report, it was produced by the college.

According to the report, the study highlighted “key opportunities to improve the student experience and pave the way for future planning activities.” According to Dean of Students Liz Braun, the study focused on the student experience outside of the classroom and its relationship to programs, facilities, and buildings. The report listed three key visions: community and belonging, growth and development, and exploration and curiosity.

Braun further described the student input involved in the visioning process.

“One of the primary ways we’ve been working with SGO is through regular touch points with the senate. [We have tried] to use the senate as a large group of students that come from a lot of different class years [as a way] of testing ideas with them and kind of making sure that they’ve got good information to ideally share with their constituencies. So I think there’s a nice balance between using the senate in addition to all of our regular committees, which SGO appoints students to,” said Braun.

Some of the central committees included the Dining Services student advisory committee and the Space Matters committee.

The report identified 15 “highest impact” emerging strategies and 10 lower-priority strategies.  Of the short-term projects, there are several, such as utilizing flat-screen TV’s across campus to feature upcoming events or create support for student run events, on which OSE has already begun working. It also includes several long-term projects such as addressing overcrowding in Sharples and the functionality of the libraries. According to Braun, the long-term projects have a timeframe between three and five years while the short-term projects have the ability to be completed by next semester.  

“One of the things to me that is critically important about the work that we’ve done is that this isn’t about drop[ping] a shovel in the ground and build some 15 million dollar building before we figure out what we actually want to do. It’s about testing some ideas. The idea about changing out furniture in lounges to see if that was actually what the students were looking for is a really good example of that,” added Vice President of Finance and Administration Greg Brown. He later reiterated the importance of intermediary steps before implementing more expensive, larger scale projects.

One of those large scale projects includes Sharples Dining Hall. Braun recognized that Sharples is too small for the current student body.

“The dining hall is too small for our student body, and has been for quite some time. We need to come up with a longer term solution. In terms of future planning for the college, there’s a big piece that we have to think about relating to meeting social needs and dining needs,” said Braun.

Brown identified upgrading McCabe as a priority.

“Mccabe is still very much a library of a certain period, but not what students want,” said Brown.

He referenced the recent Cornell Library renovations over the summer as a successful experiment that could be applied to possible future renovation projects at McCabe Library.

In addition to the facilities projects, the report also included several less tangible goals. These including “increasing access to and awareness of mental and physical health resources” and “create ‘social only’ spaces.” The report does not include as many concrete steps for these goals.

“I think that that’s really part of our next steps for really figuring out how to implement that, and again, I think we really have to partner with students. … In terms of the awareness around resources, we’ve been trying some different strategies … — for example, Alice Holland with the introduction of Izzy the very popular therapy puppy. I think that has been really popular amongst students, but also has created a different link between students and different reasons to go to the Health and Wellness Center,” said Braun. “We are trying to do more in terms of programming, getting folks out of CAPS, and out of Health and Wellness into different aspects of the community.”

One thing that the college will be doing to help improve its health services is an external review of Counseling and Psychological Services.

“The other thing we are going to be doing this spring is an external review of CAPS. This is something we had decided to do last year after feedback from the climate study and, kind of, other feedback. Something most departments due every three to five years [is that] outside people come in and kind of take a look [at their programs] and offer recommendations around what we can do to continue to improve the services,” Braun said.

Another goal unrelated to changes in facilities is to increase student access to Philadelphia. Several programs already exist to bridge the 11 mile gap between Swarthmore and the city such as Swat Deck and Lang Center funding, but Braun recognized that there is more to do.

“I think the challenge of that is, this is what we heard very frequently from students, is that they don’t always feel like they have the time to devote to going off campus, [but] they have the desire. So how do we balance that part of the student experience. But I do think modeling off of things like SwatDeck, thinking about are there collaborative ventures that we might engage in with Haverford and Bryn Mawr in Philly. What would that look like and what would attract sudents. So we’re really very actively thinking about that,” said Brown.

In addition to getting students into the city for recreation, Brown is also looking to get students off campus for work or volunteer opportunities.

“The other thing we’re looking to coordinate better, which again I think is really mission-centered, something I think is important to our students is how can our students volunteer more to help people in Chester, for example, or neighboring communities, and what does that look like? How do we make sure those opportunities are clear and available because I think there are plenty of things to do, but I don’t think it’s always clear how to find them,” said Brown.

For more information, the full report can be found on the Swarthmore webpage under Re-imagining the Student Experience.

What you love to hate about Swarthmore

in Around Campus/Campus Journal by

How better to start an article about hating things than by explaining how much Swatties love to complain? If we simply look at the classic, “Anywhere else, it would’ve been an A,” phrase, a sense of gripe seems to envelope the student population, as though letting out complaints will make their pain a little more bearable.

And honestly, on a campus as small as ours, it’s not too hard to find things we can all bond over in loving hatred. Perhaps the best way to show this phenomenon is by talking about Sharples, our favorite place to eat, that sometimes seems as though it was built to hate on. Starting with the wonderful menu that never fails to surprise, all the way to the long tables that are always suspiciously sticky, this tiny ski lodge-like building that serves as our dining hall is the main victim of the strings of complaints handed out by students. Realistically, groaning every time we remember it’s pasta bar, glancing at the options once arrived, and seeing some mysterious food laying out won’t change the fact that we’ll still come back the next day, nor the fact that the same food is the only viable meal option for some of us (*cough, cough* @ freshmen).

Yet even when Swatties choose to skip Sharpling to hit up Essie’s, they can still be found grumbling somewhere about the time Essie’s inconveniently chooses to end meal swipes, forcing them to use their precious points to find some nourishment. For some reason, knowing that they are losing points rather than a measly meal from their plan is enough to drive many over the edge unlocking a floodgate of annoyance and irritation, especially when they miss meals by a whole 30 seconds (don’t mess with those people right away — they’re in a fragile state).

Another classic complaint that is echoed throughout campus is centered around the crushing load of homework almost every student can be found drowning in on any given day of the week. Many voice complaints about how all their non-Swat friends have so much time because they don’t have nearly as much work, and others like to recall simpler times in high school when doing a sheet of problems for math class was the most work they knew. My personal favorites are upperclassmen who’ve studied abroad who come back with tales of “never [having] actually seen the campus” of the school they went to because they had “no work.” Such worlds seem light years away to the sweaty students who slave away, stressing about deadlines and the Internet crashing as soon as they are ready to submit. And man, do they freak.

Whenever the internet is down, it’s as if every student’s worst nightmare has finally caught up to them, and they’re trapped. Everything seems to be calm except for the students who are about to go off the deep end just imagining this newly-missed deadline. Everyone is blamed, from ITS to the Superbowl (at least this past Sunday), and they’re all in a frenzy to find Wifi, and someone to blame, both with equal amounts of vigor.

Obviously, ML is usually among the list of complaints by those that live there, waking up every day knowing they’ll be walking at least 2 miles just to get to class and back to bed. Perhaps students from much larger schools would simply shake their heads at such a complaints, but come on, compared to those living at Parrish, who are literally twenty steps from Kohlberg, MLers have completely founded reasons to yank at their hair and let irritation run through their veins —2 miles is probably a mile more than I walk most Sundays.

As for ‘the hill’, well, I cringe just thinking about it honestly. I mean, it’s so steep and long and wow, I’m tired already. When you have to stand at the bottom and look at it in all it’s glory, Parrish at the very top, it really is beautiful, but every step you take that burns your lungs makes you second guess that beauty. I’m sure most people who do that climb every day are significantly more toned now than they were when they first stepped on campus, but come on, is it really worth it when you’re wheezing by the time you reach the top? I would say maybe, except if you’re headed to Cornell or McCabe, where you’ll just be forced to transfer your complaints of exercise to complaints of homework.

So yeah, we complain left and right and up and down- sometimes, we even manage to make it into a sport. But could we really call ourselves true Swatties if we didn’t bemoan our tremendous amounts of homework or the way Sharples feels like it’s malnourishing us? The truth is no, we probably wouldn’t be- and anyways, what’s a healthy relationship without a little bit of banter?

 

Social Interactions in Sharples

in Op-Eds/Opinions by

There are a multitude of experiences, commonalities, and quirks shared by Swarthmore students. Add the plethora of traditions and the collective grind of academia, and the Swarthmore experience feels like a unified struggle.

However, perhaps nothing brings together Swarthmore students like the ever-polarized SHARPLES! As the only dining hall on campus, Sharples is a hot spot for hungry students after they’ve languished under the ungodly expectations of professors the whole day.

The lunch rush is a sight to behold. Your best bet for avoiding the long line in Sharples during the lunch rush is going to the grill. If you wish to satisfy your tastes at any other station after 12:20, a long line awaits you.  I know a lot about line trends and students’ individual feeding clocks because once upon a time, I used to spend as much time in Sharples as in a Seminar. During my freshman fall, I was known as Mr. Sharples. I’m less inclined to spend unbelievable amounts of time in Sharples nowadays, but I’ll never forget the memories that came from my time learning in Sharples 101.

Freshman fall: on a typical school day, I wasn’t thinking about my chemistry problem sets, my 100 pages of seminar reading, or any of the extracurricular engagements with which I had needlessly burdened myself. It was pass/fail and all I could think about was Sharples. Not necessarily the food or the understated ambiance, but the people. Who am I going to meet today? What whacky new stories will grace my ears this evening? Anticipation kills. I’m having Sharples withdrawals as I sit in my classes. Watching the clock is an exercise in torture as the minutes tick by way too slowly.

But then – the time comes. Classes are over and dinner awaits. I’m there at 4:30 on the dot, a little bit after Sharples open for dinner. I want to meet everybody, so I always arrive as early for dinner as possible. Most days, I wouldn’t make any dinner plans with anybody because they were so restricting. Armed with a smile, a generous sense of humor from the big G O single D himself, and a myriad of interesting stories, I’d greet everybody. I’d shamelessly interject myself into group discussions, and soon I had lovely friends and acquaintances from all social circles.

Such behavior earned me the admittedly deserved reputation of a “homie hopper.” For those unfamiliar with the definition of a “homie hopper,” it can best be defined as a person who chooses not to settle down in a specific friend group for the sake of enjoying the benefits of numerous friend groups. Integrating yourself with so many diverse groups of people starts with “playing the game,” as my friend Angel Padilla ’18 puts it. Playing the game involves asking and receiving basic introductory questions about hometowns, majors, summer plans, and the less personal bits of information that rarely pique anybody’s interest. However, asking these questions is essential to establishing a foundation of friendship, and these questions sometimes even procure gold.

After getting through the often-unavoidable awkwardness, my efforts were rewarded with raucous good times, bellowing laughs, and deep bonds that will never be severed. Sharples is also a great place to satisfy other motivations. Let’s ponder a hypothetical situation in which you peep a fine lass or lad who tickles your fancy, but you have reservations about approaching said person. Having many friends is great because the object of your affection may be sitting with people you know, and your connection with those people allows you to make yourself present before said person. From that point on, you can put your best self forward and woo the person of your dreams. I have employed this technique many times in my short Swarthmore career, and it’s almost foolproof.

Sharples is truly a microcosm of different cultures, attitudes, and backgrounds. It isn’t always a harmonious experience, but there is a general sense of tolerance and acceptance present among the student body when we pack into Sharples like a bunch of sardines. Despite the contentious debates and tense moments that naturally follow from such close proximity with so many people in one building, we’re all in this together; respect for peers is always at the forefront. Given the current sociopolitical state of America, it might behoove certain politicians to examine how we do things in Sharples for tips on how to run this country.

Occupy A1, and F*ck The Fratriarchy in doing so

in Campus Journal by

There are few places on campus that the majority of the student body frequents.  A combination of necessity and convenience draws students back to Sharples everyday like thesauraus.com during a long and uninteresting paper. As much as students complain, they always find themselves back in the homey ski lodge-esque dining hall that is slowly becoming too small as the the student body is increases. Dining options have increased with the implementation of the OneCard, but Sharples is still the closest food option during dinner, before 8pm, and the only one that will take swipes before mealtime. Like any social space, everyone inhabits Sharples differently. Most people choosing to fall into the routine of eating in groups. Sometimes when there isn’t assigned seating in a classroom, people accept the challenge and sit in the same spot for the rest of the semester, finding solace in their unofficial official seat. With such an academically focused student body, why would Sharples be any different?

Some Swatties noticed that “the athletes” constantly sit together at, the same tables, at A1 and started talking about it. They felt that this was not okay and was representative of the “fratriarchy”, the manifestation of the patriarchy in anything affiliated with fraternities. They decided that something had to be done, something bold. Their plan? Step one, sit at A1 and other A tables. Step two, eat.

For those unfamiliar, many students use a grid system to easily identify which table someone is referring to. When in the main room, columns are referred to with letters, and rows are referred to with numbers. When you are standing by the bussing station looking out at the tables, the table closest to the compost is referred to as A1.

When asked how the plan to disrupt the Sharples norm started, Ploy Promrat ’19 talked about how it began with her and her friends joking around in Hobbs.

“Essentially, Morgin [Goldberg ‘19] and I were just talking about how it’s kinda funny that certain tables are sort of tacitly reserved for certain groups and we thought it’d be funny to mess with that dynamic a little,” Promrat said.

Goldberg ’19 shared about how the joke then became a Facebook event, which naturally  gained more and more interest.

“We did it because we thought, this would be funny. I made a facebook event and invited 10 people, my friends, with a lengthy description that was meant for humor and I said invite your friends … thinking it would expand to 25 people but in total I believe it expanded to 320 people,” Goldberg explained.

Sabrina Merold ’17,  who participated, shared her perspective of the event before it happened.

“From as far as I can tell, this started as friends talking about what Sharples might look like if typically male sports teams didn’t sit in A1, and then turned into a discussion of masculinity and the patriarchy at Swarthmore,” Merold shared.

Merold also shared, in retrospect, what it was like to sit with the many people who expressed interest in the event on Facebook. It started at 4pm and Merold said it gave her an opportunity to sit with people who she otherwise wouldn’t have had the opportunity to interact with.

“I found it enjoyable that throughout the dinner, people would come and go at my table and I ended up eating with a diverse mix of friends from clubs and classes that I don’t usually eat with but have always wanted to,” Merold said.

Goldberg shared what happened from her perspective as she sat at the “A tables.”

“As people who usually sit in those seats came in, I expected people to be secretly mad, but the actual response, people were partially fairly openly angry and pissed off and threw their keys off at a different table,” Goldberg then further elaborated about what had happened.

“Some people were like, ‘haha okay we’ll sit somewhere else’, but then later around six o’clock the people who came in were pretty mad, people came up to me and were like, why would you do this, this is so petty and that was the point, it was petty,” Goldberg shared, expressing how surprised she was.

Merold described the initial confusion that many people expressed when they came to find the tables full of people.

“I did see some looks of confusion when some individuals who usually sit in column A came over and weren’t expecting to see the tables full,” Merold said.

Brendan Watson ’19, an athlete who normally sits at the tables at the center of the joke, commented about his team’s reaction to the entire situation.

“There was a lot of giggling by whoever was sitting at the usual ‘athlete’ tables, I guess they thought they ‘got us’ and made us look out of place by taking our usual seats. Most of us didn’t realize that people were upset over the fact that we sat at the same tables with the rest of our team everyday,” Watson recounted.

The group who organized the occupation of A1 were successful in proving, despite the “athletes tables” label, that the seating is open to any person choosing to eat in Sharples. The group of students took a stand, ate dinner, and disrupted the norm. Swatties were brought together and laughs were had, ultimately creating connections within our community while making students more conscious about their seating decisions.

On eating alone

in Op-Eds/Opinions by

Once or twice a week, I walk into Sharples for dinner with a weird feeling in my stomach. I walk down the stairs, look around, and my suspicions are confirmed: I’m eating alone tonight. I swear under my breath, wonder how I’ve managed to lose track of time again, and come after my friends have left the dining hall again. It’s too late to get a to-go container, plus I often eat more than I can fit in one of those trays. I stare down the long sweeping tables, trying to decide where to sit. Are there any tables empty at one end? I don’t particularly enjoy eating alone at Sharples, but eating alone right next to a group of friends or a sports team is incredibly uncomfortable. Why do I feel like I’m the only one whom this ever happens to? That cannot possibly be the case. Am I the only one here who feels judged when eating alone? I know I’m not. In the midst of these questions, what I really wonder is exactly why eating alone bothers me. Outside of the dining hall, I love eating alone. Eating snacks in my dorm room is generally relaxing, and I’ve never minded eating dinner by myself, on the rare occasions before coming to college that at least one member of my family wasn’t home for dinner. The problem isn’t eating alone; it’s eating alone surrounded by other people who aren’t eating alone.

Almost every meal presents a series of social expectations. From arriving and meeting friends to constantly shifting seating arrangements, eating in the dining hall is inherently social. I’ve come to realize that eating alone in Sharples feels weird only because it seems as though no one else is by themselves, and thus, I am on the outside of a widely followed set of dining hall norms. I often open my computer and pull up a reading because I’m worried that my fellow diners will feel bad for me. The sense of being judged by others for being by myself consumes my thoughts any time I eat by myself, even though I know that no one cares or likely even notices that I’m eating by myself. Getting over my own self-doubt about eating alone requires both the confidence in myself to face the internalized pressure to be amongst friends at mealtimes and my own personal stigma that surrounds eating alone. I know that this will come with time, and Eddie Jones ‘19 confirmed this, saying, “I don’t prioritize eating with people. There are time constraints that make it hard to schedule meals with people, and eating isn’t inherently a communal activity, especially since clubs and other activities create other social situations.” The confirmation that eating alone doesn’t mean I’ve failed to fulfill some vaguely defined social obligation was uplifting, and I realized the contradictions of my social paranoia: I’ve never seen someone studying at the library by themselves and thought that they must not have any friends, but any time I’m alone at Sharples, I am convinced that everyone there thinks I don’t have friends. Eating alone doesn’t make me the epitome of all things awkward, and even if it did, that doesn’t need to be a bad thing.

I’ve recently tried harder to avoid eating alone. I’ve stopped setting arbitrary homework goals to reach before going to dinner, and I more often make plans for dinner and lunch in advance. However, by actively trying to eat with others, I wonder if I’ve lost something important. By avoiding being by myself, I am inevitably perpetuating my own stigma surrounding being by myself at mealtimes. I love eating with my friends, but our schedules will not always match up, and eating with them will not be possible every single day. The ability to sit in Sharples and eat a meal by myself—to exist in the room without feeling incredibly lonely—is something that I will have to learn over time, because it will inevitably happen again. It could happen next week, next month, or tomorrow, and when it does, I hope I can convince myself that no one is judging me, and that I certainly shouldn’t judge myself. Instead of mitigating the negative effects of eating by myself, I’d like to learn to enjoy it.

There is value in having a meal by oneself. Taking the time to reflect and relax after a stressful event is essential, and mealtimes are a convenient time to do that. The white noise of the dining hall can aid some in focusing on their reading. Sometimes, it’s just nice to not talk to anyone for an hour. Eating alone can be a positive experience, but only if it is framed that way. I know that I’m not the only one who has ever eaten a meal alone, and I can’t be the only one who feels an unnecessary sense of loneliness when it happens. The atmosphere at Swarthmore is inclusive and non-judgemental, and that does not need to stop at the door of Sharples. The dining hall is for the benefit of students, and both as individuals and a group, we have the opportunity to decide that it’s not just for students in a group but for the individual diner as well.

Missing flatbed truck causes concern for Sharples

in News by

In the last weekend of September, Sharples Dining Hall experienced a break-in and the theft of a flatbed delivery cart staff used to process deliveries to the Dining Hall. Both the break-in and theft come after a number of similar incidents last year at the dining hall, including one in which a display put up for Hanukkah was vandalized, and raise questions about the security of the college’s only dining hall.

According to Public Safety, the first of the two break-ins occurred when several students broke through a screen and entered Sharples at night. They wandered around the building for a while and caused no damage. A contract employee eventually confronted the students, and they left without incident. Public Safety was contacted, and  an internal college report was filed. In an unrelated incident, the theft of the flatbed delivery cart also occurred over the same weekend. Director of Public Safety Michael Hill explained that, when burglaries and thefts happen like this, the police are notified.

“Typically, if there is a burglary on campus, we notify the police, particularly if there is evidence that the responsible parties intentionally broke into the space with the intent to steal or if there is insufficient evidence to determine motive and the building was broken into.”

Hill explained that, while Public Safety is always trying to improve security for members of the college community and for college buildings, no special effort was being made to increase security for Sharples, even in light of the recent incidents. Hill said Public Safety is also working to try to recover the cart, but it has had no luck so far.

Director of Dining Services Linda McDougall explained that the stolen flatbed cart is a critical part of staff jobs when workers are unloading supplies from deliveries. This is why the campus-wide email promising “no questions asked” if the flatbed cart was returned was sent out.

“The flatbed truck is used to move delivered products from the pallet to their proper storage location within Sharples.  The trucks are generally used by our receivers, but are used throughout the day by many staff to move products around the kitchen. It is causing a hardship for the receiver who no longer has this most important ‘tool’ to do his job.”

McDougall said that there was no leads in the investigation of who took the flatbed truck although it appears nothing else had been taken from Sharples. McDougall said that a new flatbed truck had been ordered, but it would not arrive for some time. The fate of the flatbed truck will perhaps remain unknown.

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