DisreGuardian: Down With Café V! UCSD Dining Hall Undergoes Major Renovations

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Image by Allen Chen for The UCSD Guardian

Bradley Beggs, Lifestyle Editor

For those of you who are blissfully unaware of the complex happenings of UC San Diego’s beloved Housing Dining Hospitality program, Chancellor Coleslaw has once again signed off on another campus renovation. Such is the UCSD way: funneling thousands of dollars worth of hard-earned tuition payments into an ambitious and inconvenient construction project. The victim this time: Café Ventanas. 

Known for their delectable cuisines that please even the most sophisticated UCSD palettes, Cafe V, as it is better known by, is the central dining hall serving residents of Eleanor Roosevelt College, Seventh College, and the worse half of Thurgood Marshall College. For the residents of these colleges who may be reading at this very moment, do not fret! HDH has devised an incredible plan to offset the demand for appropriate food service to you lovely residents by dusting off the old HDH food trucks (last seen at Sun God Festival 2022 with service slower than the financial aid office), transforming Great Hall into a quasi-mess hall (emphasis on the mess), and adding breakfast and brunch to The Bistro (sushi for breakfast does sound good — I cannot lie).

Perhaps I’m biased. I myself have been an HDH employee since my freshman year and a two-year resident on campus, so I have had to endure the hardships of living on campus and serving food to its residents. If I were resentful, I would say that HDH is like a cockroach: spineless, a sign of bad food, and always up in your living space, even if you try to get rid of them. But, I’m not.

Regardless of my astounding praise for HDH’s fantastic business model and practices, Cafe V is still going to change, and there is nothing I can do to stop the executives for turning the dining hall with the false facade on UCSD’s gargantuan campus into something worth the 20-minute walk from anywhere more important. How can something that looks so good have food that tastes so mediocre? But on a brighter note, let’s now take a look at what you can expect from the armpit of UCSD’s dining halls next year.

Tired of having to look at the poor saps who have to wash your dirty dishes? Well not anymore. Renovations to Cafe V include a new “employee privacy screen.” Just simply pass your silverware through a magic curtain and an HDH student employee will pry it from your hands and hand wash it! No need for dishwashers at Cafe V anymore; our students are more than capable of doing it on their own.

Speaking of dishes, HDH knows how tired everyone is of the Triton To-Go boxes. They’re such a hassle, and returning them is a nightmare. Not only do you have to lug the 40+ boxes you’ve stockpiled to a local Ozzi machine, but there is never a guarantee that the machines are working properly. To combat this, Cafe V is launching a program called “Do My Dishes, You HDH Whore!” Basically, once a week, an HDH student employee will come to your dorm or apartment and wash all of your Triton To-Go boxes for you! No longer do you have to drag your moldy green boxes to an HDH establishment and hope that they’ll accept them. With this program, HDH is saving you time! The students were washing them by hand anyways (this is not a joke. I myself have had to hand wash moldy to-go boxes), so this just cuts out the middleman.

Another big area for improvement was the method of getting customers the food that they ordered. We’ve all been there: scrambling to open the app and find those last four magic numbers so that the lovely HDH student employee can personally hand you your meal that is sitting three inches away from you. After the renovations, this will be a system of the past. Now, all you have to do is sit at any of Cafe V’s new teppanyaki tables, and a personal, inexperienced, minimum wage student employee will be there to cook you your food on-demand! Ordering your grilled cheese and getting it ASAP has never been more convenient. And with the “chef” cooking it right in front of you, you can watch them as they make the 50 grilled cheeses a minute it takes to feed a campus of 30,000+. They haven’t been properly trained and sure as hell don’t get paid enough to do this, but Cafe V used all of its budget on these fancy new tables, so they can’t afford to hire real cooks. 

Worried about the HDH staff now as you’ve read these last few changes? Don’t you worry one bit! An all new, tricked-out staff break room is also being added during the renovation. Long gone are the windowless break rooms with a singular table and chair. Now, our valuable student employees can enjoy a singular table and chair in a room with a window. HDH even plans on expanding their employee meal program, increasing the amount of money you can spend on snacks or meals from 12 to 13 dollars. A significant improvement to say the least.

A big concern for the executives over at HDH is loss prevention. Theft has been an issue for far too long, so along with the Cafe V remodel is new, state-of-the-art loss prevention equipment. Partnering with Amazon, HDH plans to install facial recognition software and a multitude of surveillance equipment to one, track your purchases and two, ensure that you aren’t stealing. For those concerned about privacy, don’t be! You already forfeited most of it simply by being a student at UCSD. Even UCSD research experts can’t prevent constant data breaches and keep vital information safe, so this new system is hardly at the top of your worries. 

Another new and exciting program these renovations will bring is “Student Employee Only Day.” Sometimes, dealing with full grown adults is too much for our college-aged brains. So if you need a break from the ramblings of the geriatric, consider eating at the dining hall every Sunday. Students will be tasked to open the dining hall, run it for an entire day, and close it all by themselves. They were already doing this before, but HDH thought they’d make a day out of it. Exciting!

In all honesty, HDH is kind of a joke, just like these renovations. For a system that really prides itself in housing, feeding, and employing students, it sure doesn’t serve them all that well. HDH has problems just like any other college program, but what absolutely kills me is that HDH has acknowledged most if not all of these problems (as a former student manager, I’ve been to these meetings!), and yet still continues to refurbish, renovate, and reinvigorate a system that is realistically only doing the bare minimum for its students.

So it is time, my fellow Tritons, to rise up against this foolishness. To take a stand and say, “No! We will not be sold this propaganda!” Cafe V and the rest of HDH can renovate all they want, but it is just spackle over sandpaper. They can no longer cover up their shortcomings by slapping on a new coat of paint and calling it a day. Unless we see real improvements, enjoyable food, housing security and safety, adequate working environments, and a heck of a lot more service towards the students who fund these constant renovations, I say down with Cafe V! And down with HDH!

Editor’s Note: The following is a satirical article for The DisreGuardian, a series of articles published annually for The Guardian’s April Fool’s issue. Lifestyle will resume publishing normal content next week.

Art by Allen Chen of the UCSD Guardian