Revisiting Food at Whitman

Dana Walden, Opinion Columnist

have so many problems with the Cleveland Dining Center that if I were to write about all of them, I would probably take up most of page seven. Fortunately, my editor would never let me do that, so you are spared from the incendiary rant that could have ensued. But I am not alone in my anger — the hatred on this campus for BonApp is palpable and justified. Honestly, if you aren’t constantly complaining about Cleveland, then you’re not paying attention. Or you’re rich.

Illustration by Nathaly Perez

All of the problems students are having with Cleveland can be tied back to money. For most of us, Cleveland is just too expensive. I went from eating two full meals a day to between one and two small meals, and the latter costs me more. Granted, the food tastes better, and the dining center is aesthetically pleasing, but we can’t survive on a meal and a half a day, no matter where or how it is served. Like many other students, I have found myself skipping meals and making questionable, cost-saving choices when I do eat at Cleveland — we’re trying to get the most out of our flex dollars, which don’t have the same purchasing power as regular dollars.

There is a major disparity between the costs of healthy food and less-than-healthy food. The only access to fresh fruit in the entire facility is a minuscule yogurt bar, where it costs $5 to get a small bowl of fruit. For that price, students can get two sides of macaroni and cheese, which is much more economical and much more filling. BonApp is asking students to pick between healthy eating and hearty eating, and it is already having disastrous health effects on several Whitman students, myself being one of them.

Those of us with meal plans have become captive eaters, because we have no choice but to support BonApp and contribute to their extortionate system. BonApp is profiting off of our eating practices and will continue to do so until someone with authority steps in. Even with reassurances from the administration that they won’t let any student “go hungry,” there doesn’t seem to be anyone dedicated to finding solutions to these concerns and mitigating some of the panic that has spread around campus.

When Cleveland opened, we were told it would be a meeting place, a center of community, a place for shared meals and communal dining. Cleveland was supposed to unify us, but has done the exact opposite. Cleveland has increased the differentiation between the “wealthy Whitties” and everyone else. The already prevalent distinction between different socioeconomic groups on campus is made greater by Cleveland’s presence, and students will continue to divide along lines of wealth until the issues with BonApp are fixed.

At the beginning of the semester, I wrote an article for The Wire titled, “Food for Thought,” in which I addressed the many shortcomings of having all of our dining services centered in Prentiss. I never imagined I would long for those endless lines and lukewarm food — it wasn’t pretty, but I could afford it. We can’t afford Cleveland, as individuals and as a community, but we’re paying for it anyway. We’ll keep paying for it. We have no choice.