Summit’s Demise Leaves Little But Greasy Leftovers

A dreary day is upon us: Now that Sierra Summit is in a pre-renovation coma and El Mercado has served its final order of Carne Asada fries (R.I.P.), eating on campus just got a lot less convenient.

Though Associate Director of Housing, Dining and Hospitality Steve Casad keeps assuring us that the Muir College overflow problem has proven painless, numbers speak for themselves: last Thursday, 583 of Muir’s 1062 residents swiped at OceanView Terrace, 474 hit up Goody’s Place and Market, 271 ate at Plaza Cafe and another 151 went to Cafe Ventanas.

Of course, freshmen have no point of reference to happier, more bountiful days of yesteryear. As Week Two is just coming to a close, they haven’t snapped out of the novel daze that comes with unlimited burritos from 9 to 1 a.m. They also aren’t busy enough yet to realize that once they’ve got 150 pages of the Canterbury Tales to whiz through, those half-hour mediocre-burrito lines won’t seem so worth it.

While Casad attributes the cafeterias’ new state of constant mosh-pit to the usual beginning-of-the-year rush and hiring of new, untrained workers, the number of meal-carded residents won’t be dropping to convenient lows anytime before June. We may not have reached our threshold for soggy fries yet this quarter, but the situation won’t improve until the displaced Muir diners have a place all their own.

Muir residents currently pay the same as their peers across campus for a meal plan, but without the benefit of in-college dining — which may indeed seem a petty gripe in light of all the other challenges the University of California faces. Yet on a campus of this size, students have more to worry about than passing through never-ending stir-fry lines with relative speed — the issue of travel time, too, comes into play. Negligible as it may seem, those extra 15 or 20 minutes it takes to trudge to OVT and back make that dusty cup of ramen under the bed a whole lot more enticing.

We have, of course, been spoiled with choices in the past. Though the lamentable loss of the OVT quesadilla isn’t quite cause for rebellion, the new offerings at Goody’s — a burrito bar, cafe and limited selection of premade sandwiches and pasta salads — leave few healthy options. Not only is it imperative that we be able to eat quickly; Housing, Dining and Hospitality must also ensure that those students unwilling to stomach their 100th greasy concoction have access to greener choices than currently exist.

Also impermissible is the fact that construction on Sierra Summit is not expected to begin until January. In the meantime, the space remains untouched by both demolition crews and swarms of starved students. While that poor choice can’t be reversed, Housing, Dining and Hospitality should consider extending the hours of our existing dining halls to reduce the nightly pre-closing rush — if only to pay respect to those Muir students who pass by a caution-taped Summit on their long trudge to Goody’s.

Especially unacceptable is that OVT’s closing hour has been scaled back from 1 a.m. to 9 p.m. While renovating a decades-old facility is beneficial to students, cutting access to existing dining locations is not. After all, it’s Housing, Dining and Hospitality’s job to ensure fast service and healthy choices — not ours.

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