On Saturdays, the last meal available at Sharples ends at 6:30 p.m. Officially, parties start at 10, but most revelers arrive much later than that, usually around midnight. This leaves four to six hours between when students on the meal plan eat dinner and begin drinking, leading them to drink on an empty stomach. This could potentially lead to health risks and dangerous behaviour. Similarly, no food is available to students at the end of parties on Thursdays or Saturdays, making it difficult to sober up before bed. We at the Phoenix believe that there is a simple solution to this problem that should be implemented right away: late meal.
The lack of late night options is also a problem for students with obligations like 7 p.m. to midnight honors seminars or evening rehearsals, which can make it difficult to get dinner when combined with afternoon athletic practices or class. Even for students without late night obligations, those hours are often all too necessary for finishing work. The libraries are usually occupied until closing with students reading, writing, and working on problem sets. On nights when McCabe closes at 2 a.m., Essie Mae’s closes at 10:30 p.m. or midnight, leaving hours of school-sanctioned work time with extremely limited food options.
To address this problem, most colleges offer some kind of fourth meal period, or ‘late meal,’ between midnight and 2 a.m. This doesn’t necessarily an entail a variety of options like Sharples offers at lunch and dinner; it is often just a few simple foods that are easy to prepare.
A problem with this model is that it is difficult for staff to come in and work a shift so late at night — staff, after all, have families and lives to return to. But there is a simple solution: hire students to run the kitchen and prepare meals for their peers. This would create opportunities for students to work on campus, as well as providing serious benefits for the student body. A late meal option would allow us to be safer and healthier at parties and study harder on long library nights. It is time for Swarthmore to step up its strategies for the well-being of its students.