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Tuesday, April 16, 2024
The Observer

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The dining hall deserves your love

I have been lied to. The first time I toured Notre Dame as a bright-eyed high school senior so innocent and full of potential, I was told that no student ever runs out of meal swipes.

But last semester, after 250 visits to our fine dining establishments, my swipes were depleted two days before I left for home. Luckily, a human can survive for over 3 weeks without food (and I still had roughly 375 flex points left). Yet this was still a very difficult time for me. I lost access to the place I love most. 

It seems that much of the student body has decided that the dining halls are not good. And they are grossly mistaken.

The dining halls are beautiful buildings where happiness flourishes and problems disappear. When my time on earth is done, I would not be opposed to having my ashes spread across NDH. And I know I am not alone.

The bliss begins the second you enter the dining hall, greeted by the lovely employees whose smiles could heal the sins of a nation. The employees are a beacon of light in my life and hopefully the future godparents of my children. 

But the joy does not end there. Next comes the thrill of waiting in line for food.

One of the best parts of the dining hall is waiting in line. Miserable souls may claim that no dining hall food is worth waiting in line for, but they’ve got it all backward. Life is about the journey, not the destination. In such a polarized and divided world, waiting in lines gives me the chance to be a part of something bigger than myself. They represent a group of people all moving toward the same common goal: mediocre dining hall food. It’s a beautiful thing. Despite recent (false) allegations that I cut in line, I attest that I would never miss out on the chance to stand in line. 

The food

As for the food, I can only describe it as misunderstood. It has so much potential and is not nearly as bad as it has been made out to be.

Does this make me a radical? Maybe. But I am not the first.

Even in 1957 (the first year NDH was first opened) students published Scholastic articles in defense of dining hall food. One such author, who I’m sure was very wise and intelligent, criticized students who complained that DH food wasn’t as good as homemade, asking “Who in his right mind could expect it to?”

It is, after all, a dining hall, and a good one at that. Who are we to judge the dining hall so harshly? I urge each person who has criticized the dining hall to take a good look at themselves before they attack my beloved dining hall. I believe that disliking the dining hall is not the issue of the establishment, but of the person.

Despite complaints, there is not a lack of options, only a lack of creativity. As I see it, the dining hall is a game, you just have to know how to play it. Think outside the box. There are so many hidden gems just waiting to be mined.

One of my favorite creations is carrots dipped in vanilla yogurt. Thank me later. The chicken tinga is also highly recommended. What I love about the dining hall food is that it provides me with the opportunity to pretend that I’m an ancient nomadic hunter-gatherer, which is the occupation I would be pursuing if I wasn’t too far into my finance major. 

After successfully scavenging, it’s time to finally enjoy the meal. Whether you sit amongst the people or hide in a booth playing Minesweeper alone, no time spent in the DH is a waste.

Yet the true gift of the dining hall is the company it brings us. Conversation flows as students pick through their food. Time does not exist within the wall of the dining hall, only joy. There is truly no place like it. Where else can I chug a cup of coffee before an exam or argue with my friends about filibusters for 45 minutes? The dining hall sustains life on campus, and was there ever a nuclear threat or zombie apocalypse, it would be the first place I run to.

It is a place where all people come together: friends, enemies and campus celebrities alike. There is so much to love about the dining hall.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.