The University meal plan saps the strength of all of its various sports teams

By Maroon Staff

The football team does get talked about enough and it’s not their fault. They are undernourished. Ask them if they are being fed enough, and they will likely tell you that they are not. It is a sad, sad state of affairs when it has come to this, and I blame nobody but the evil dining services. Their past policies were bearable, but this year they have gone too far. Now, mired in malnourishment, the football team (and all the other sports teams, for that matter) puts me in an unfortunate position.

When I go home and tell my friends and other people from my youth that I am a columnist for the University’s paper, their initial reaction contains the usual ‘it’s-nice-to-know-what-you’re-doing’ pleasantries. If they are nice, and about half of them are, they ask which section of the paper I write for. As I cannot tell a lie, I inform them that my columns can be found in the sports section. Sometimes the pleasantries continue without a hitch. However, if my partner in conversation is particularly astute, and if they know the history of our University, they may make a face. With that face, and an inflection at the end, turning the following statement into a question, they say, “your school needs a sports section(?)!”

We get no respect. Perhaps we don’t deserve any. Our school is infamous for knocking down its football stadium to build a library, and spitting on its own storied football past in the process. Years from now, the historical moment we will shake our heads at will be the time they tried to starve the students out of that very same library. Maybe it is our punishment to exist in this purgatory, where nobody knows that we do have sports, and, consequently, where nobody knows that we have a sports section.

Nay, perhaps it is that we have sports because we at this glorious newspaper have dedicated ourselves to providing information about everything going on at this school. Without such a machine—and, yes, we are a machine—it would be near impossible for any student to know what spoils the athletic prowess of our fellow students has yielded.

This is not just any paper. At this paper we have broadcasted the sports stories that mattered most to students at our school. When Jay Berwanger won the Heisman trophy, we were there. When our school beat Notre Dame, we were there. For a while, there were no sports. But, even when there were no sports, there was The Chicago Maroon. Dispensing information with the tenacity and conviction of a senile street preacher, we’ve been there. Verily, if we didn’t have this newspaper, the very existence of athletics at the University would be impossible.

But the matter at hand calls: our dining halls are in disrepair. No, I am not talking about the dishwashing machine at Pierce, which appears (thank goodness) to be in working order this year. Rather, I am suggesting that the Residence Halls dining program is morally bankrupt. Their policies are not a recipe for strong, healthy students. They are a recipe for emaciated ones. How can the sports section report on the tenacity of our athletes or the general health of our student body under the current state of affairs?

Earlier, I mentioned that the sports section reports on the “spoils” that our athletes earn. Now, I must interject that the most significant spoils this year have been those earned by the dining halls. The dining halls, and their cohorts the residence halls, purport to have increased flexibility for students by introducing dining points this year. They have done no such thing. They have merely thinly disguised highway robbery and diverted attention from their transparent veil with congratulatory back slaps for added “flexibility”.

My friends, our meek acceptance of this crime is not our own fault. Student meal plans, in their purest form, are a brilliant invention. Their purpose is twofold. First, they make sure the parents need not worry about their “babies” going off and starving in college. Secondly, they are intended to make sure that the focus of the students is on their studies. Hungry students do not write good papers (and for that matter, good school papers). Formerly, with the all-you-can-eat meal plan structure, both of these aims were addressed properly. Yes, the meal plans were expensive, but they still accomplished both goals. Now, however, under the guise of “flexibility”, the meal plans accomplish neither aim. The “Bartlett Buck” is a veritable tool kit for the money-grubbing housing system. While students fork over money by the bale for their meal plans, they are no longer guaranteed to not be hungry. Additionally, they must worry not about their schoolwork, but about how much money is left in their declining balance accounts. For these two sins I could forgive, but for the following, I cannot revoke my condemnation of the institution.

In addition to this debased structuring of student dining, we now come to the unforgivable highway robbery. You may examine the meal plan pricing and do some simple math. If you do so you will find that students on the Bartlett meal plans actually pay a premium to eat at Bartlett. To the tune of $365, students on the Bartlett moderate plan must forfeit funds. Prices at Bartlett are already comparable to a restaurant, to account for the general public purchasing food there. This means that students must pay more to eat at Bartlett than a person who has no meal plan. This, fellow students, is wretched and unforgivable. We should not be subjected to this. Our student body is suffering. Our athletes are suffering.

The renaissance of the University’s repute as an institution of higher learning and a place where athletics indeed are partaken in cannot happen until the perverse modus operandi in the residence halls and dining services are rescinded. Until then, I must continue, as a columnist for this fair paper, to get no respect from the outside world, who knows not the situation inside this ivory tower. It used to be that we were too busy to eat the bread of idleness at this school.

Now it just costs too damn many Bartlett bucks.