Sharps Babe, Please Stay! (Open a Little Longer)

Students use the new Dining and Community Commons building on the first full day returning from fall break on the campus of Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, PA on Monday, Oct. 17, 2022. (Laurence Kesterson/Staff Photographer)

Let me begin this by saying I am not an angry person. I strive to be calm, cool, and collected (like a cucumber). However, nothing sends me into the five stages of grief faster than when I walk into the dining hall at an hour during which it is still fully open, only to find that the food options are limited. 

Let me continue by saying that I love Sharps. (An aside recommended by the editor: I do not believe in calling it Narples or New Sharps, it has always been and will always be Sharps.) You will be hard-pressed to find someone who attends or enjoys Sharps more than me. I am at the dining hall for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day. I appreciate the variety in the food, and as a vegetarian, I am grateful to have multiple options for protein at most meals. Additionally, as an athlete and someone who simply cares about their health, I find it imperative that I have nutritious and filling food, and Sharps, for the most part, has more than met my needs.

I have many gripes with the dining hall, and many of them have already been spoken about at length. I can be angry about how we removed trays to use less water while failing to install urinals. I can be angry about the master staircase that changes width and direction. I can be angry that I need to walk up and down stairs multiple times to order from the grill or get the upstairs food options. I can be angry about the lack of a quiet room to do work in. I can be angry that the centerpiece is an electric pizza oven that offers substantial quantities of nutrient-poor food. I can be angry that there is music playing at 8:10 a.m. when I am trying to enjoy a quiet breakfast and finish a reading for class. I can be angry at the lack of long tables, making me occupy four or six seats should I want to eat alone. I can be angry about the lack of staple options in the free zone — why can’t it offer pasta or protein on a regular basis?  I can be angry about the lack of a popcorn machine and hot chocolate.

None of these, though, are as important to me as when Sharps’ food options disappear early. 

Please, please for the love of all things: if you say you close at 8 p.m., please have the same food offerings at 7:45 p.m. as you do at 6:30 p.m. If the meal swipe costs the same at 6:30 as it does at 7:45, I should be able to access the same quantity and quality of food. Too often will I arrive at the dining hall after 7:30 to find the vegetarian offerings to be rice and vegetables and the only source of protein as veggie burgers and eggs. As grateful as I am to Mike for making me veggie burgers and eggs for dinner, I don’t think that should be the only option if I want to enjoy a balanced meal. When I can make dinner before 7:00,  my plate will often end up with options from both stations downstairs and the vegetarian station upstairs. I appreciate that I can almost always find tofu, beans, or some other protein option. 

When I arrive later though, these options are frequently missing. I should not have to show up at 6:30 to be treated to the privilege of waiting in long lines and struggling to find a table in order to get all the dining options. If it is the dinner hours, then the food for dinner should remain consistent. I wouldn’t even mind if the vegetarian options were brought downstairs, and only the lower level stations were opened, but the frequent lack of protein-dense and high quality food at closing time is undoubtedly problematic.

To put it shortly: Sharps, if you say you close at 8 p.m., please close at 8 p.m. Love, your #1 Fan, Matt

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