Each day, engineering students make the long trek from their residential colleges to the Engineering Quadrangle for class. Students often have classes from morning to afternoon, sometimes with no more than 30 minutes between each class. Given that the closest dining hall — the Center for Jewish Life — is at least 10 minutes away, many students with meal plans are left with insufficient time before their next class to eat lunch. As a result, many students elect to spend their own money at the E-Quad Café. The Board believes that the University should support students who cannot easily access dining halls during lunchtimes and recommends that the E-Quad Café accept late meal swipes during normal lunch hours.
As it stands, students either spend their own money or are left waiting until late meal at2 p.m. Students have to choose between going hungry during their afternoon classes or spending money outside the amount allocated to a University meal plan. Since all underclassmen are required to buy a meal plan — the University specifically requested an exemption from a New Jersey state law that made this illegal — Dining Services should take all steps necessary to ensure accessibility to meal options.
While the bagged lunch program does offer some relief to students unable to access the dining halls, it is hardly fair to expect students to accept the same offerings every day just because of their choice of major or classes. The offerings in the E-Quad Café change daily. They include a hot lunch option — something the bagged lunch option never includes — and a constantly changing slate of sandwiches. These options are much closer to the choices students eating in dining halls have than the limited options for variety in bagged lunches.
Some might be concerned that the E-Quad Café would not be able to handle the increase in students. While lines will certainly be longer, the café could handle the increase. The tables surrounding the café have ample sitting room, even at peak hours. Furthermore, students looking for a snack would be deterred by the use of a late-meal swipe, limiting the number of students that take advantage of this change. Any increase in customers would occur around lunchtime and would be limited to students looking for a meal. However, this increase may still require the preparation of greater quantities of food. Given that students are required to purchase a meal plan, the Board believes it is the University’s responsibility to make the necessary staffing and facilities changes needed to serve the café’s expanded customer base.
Some may argue that expanding dining options in the E-Quad could isolate engineering students from the rest of the underclassmen population. We believe that this is unlikely for two reasons. First, this would only affect students who have limited time for lunch — students who have long lunch breaks are more likely to make the walk to meet their A.B. peers at other campus dining facilities. Currently, students with limited time for lunch are not even going to dining halls. Second, the use of a late meal swipe could compel students to try making the 10-minute walk to the CJL or even the 13-minute walk to Wilcox Hall. Furthermore, students that take advantage of the E-Quad Café at lunch will still eat dinner at the residential colleges.
Engineering students must choose from getting a limited variety of bagged lunches, spending hundreds of additional dollars a semester or going hungry when faced with a short lunch break between morning and afternoon classes. The Board believes that the University should increase access to meal plan swipes by accepting meal swipes at the E-Quad Café. Though this change may require logistical changes to E-Quad Café staffing and modifications to its point-of-sale system, we believe that these changes are necessary to give all students the opportunity to use the meal plans they are required to purchase.
TheEditorial Boardis an independent body and decides its opinions separately from the regular staff and editors of The Daily Princetonian. The Board answers only to its Chair, the Opinion Editor and the Editor-in-Chief.