By: Mira Costello
Picture this: it’s 2018. You get out of class at 11:15, hungry for lunch, and the campus is your oyster. Will you stop by Northside Express for a panini? Make a sandwich at the SubConnection? Perhaps get a drink from Starbucks, or just head to the tried-and-true Grill?
For many IU South Bend students, this has never been their experience on campus. For others, it’s a distant memory.
Today, with Sodexo’s contract with the university under review, the future of food on campus is uncertain. Students have been left to wonder why the Starbucks kiosk in the Education and Arts building could not be maintained, why there are no more subs in the SubConnection and why we still don’t have dinner, or normal weekday options on Fridays.
According to administrators who have spoken with the Student Government Association about this issue, dinner and Friday services simply cost more than they are worth and do not see enough traffic. But what exactly does that mean, and how can this information coexist with ongoing student requests for longer dining hours?
According to Chancellor Susan Elrod during a November breakfast meeting with the SGA, Sodexo is an independent contractor, and IU South Bend prefers not to contribute to their operating costs to help them maintain longer hours.
Of course, Food Truck Fridays and a trial of limited Friday hours at the SubConnection have been a step in the right direction. However, the 90-minute wait at the Junbuggies food truck on Jan. 27 was a clear sign that Friday campus-goers have been without options for too long.
Although there may be few classes on Fridays, campus is still alive with student workers, faculty and staff, administrators, gym and library patrons, athletes, SGA representatives and even our own Preface staff.
As is evident in pieces like the adjacent We Asked You, it’s no secret that students want dinner options, especially those who live on campus. While the dorms in River Crossing Campus Housing have kitchens, it is unreasonable to assume that every student will always be able to cook or afford nutritious groceries, even with helpful resources like Titans Feeding Titans in mind.
Of course, this is not to mention the many students and clubs that meet on campus past 4:30 p.m., as well as classes that release at 6:30 p.m., 8:30 p.m. and even later.
On a commuter campus, one of our central concerns will always be how to make IU South Bend a place where people want to come and stay, not just head home as soon as the clock strikes 12:45 or 2:15. One of the answers to this seems, if not easy, then at least simple – feed us.
I spoke with Michelle Shedd, dining operations manager, who said she cares about student opinions about campus dining and wants as much feedback from students as possible. If you have concerns, questions, or ideas about improving dining, you can reach her directly at email@example.com. She said each student’s testimony makes a difference, and that the more we communicate what we want to see, the more likely we are to make change.