"Are you doing alright?" a concerned friend asks, approaching me as I meander aimlessly through the barren, confused space that has become the "food side" of the O'Connor Campus center.
I am entirely startled by the minimal ready-to-go options, the misplaced signage, the absolutely ratchet line situation. Recognizing the near total devastation of my favorite place on campus, I turn to my friend to respond, "No."
The sandwich station has been bastardized.
The scenario with the lines within the food pick-up area is out of control.
The check out line is governed by an unclear methodology.
There is no more honey mustard.
There is way more soup than anyone ever asked for.
THERE IS NO MORE HONEY MUSTARD.
I've heard the smoothies are fine and the coffee isn't worse.
Last Spring, Colgate switched its dining contract from an arrangement with Sodexo to another higher education dining services provider, Chartwells. Chartwells started operating on campus this Fall and faced enough complaints that a lot of PR work has been done to establish that they are "listening" to what the student body wants. I have been told that the majority of these complaints were addressed, but I was not on campus to experience any of this growth and I'm not mad, I'm just disappointed.
During my semester abroad I looked forward to few things with the same zeal with which I looked forward to sinking my teeth into a toasted pesto and mozzarella sandwich on whole wheat from the Coop. Whenever I would catch up with friends still on campus via Skype or text message, my first order of business would always be to check on the status of Coop sandwiches. I was always met with an evasive answer: "They have really good pasta now!"
As an upperclassman without a campus meal plan, I don't intend to take the majority of my meals in campus dining locations up the hill, but I did hope that I would be able to find solace in the fact that if I wanted to eat lunch up the hill, bountiful options would await me at the Coop. I have visited the Coop with the lofty intention of eating a pleasant lunch with friends every day since my arrival back on campus and each time I have been visibly distraught with its state.
To me it seems that the changes Chartwells made to the Coop were executed with little vision and were put in place just to say that they were doing something different than Sodexo. The use of the space seems largely inefficient with the new self-serve salad bar taking up a decent amount of real estate that used to house plentiful grab-and-go food options that have been haphazardly shoved into a small corner at the entrance of the food area. There is a television screen hovering above the grill station displaying the prices for food from the grill. These prices are also prominently displayed on a large placard behind the grill station. I could go on.
The whole place is just a feng shui nightmare.
By far, though, my biggest bone to pick with the new Coop dining situation is the lack of honey mustard. I've been told by a reliable underclassman source that honey mustard occasionally finds its way next to the salad bar to be used as a dressing, which is nothing short of absolutely ludicrous. I used to go to the Coop and get food to use purely as a vessel for honey mustard when I was under a lot of academic stress. I know I'm not the only one who used Coop honey mustard as an emotional crutch and really don't understand how someone could have walked into the Coop and decided that what needed to be fixed was to have fewer dipping sauce options.
As a whole, I feel like upperclassmen got the short end of the stick with the dining hall overhaul that Chartwells is attempting to execute. While the meal swipe options at the Coop are outrageously cost effective, when you don't have a meal plan that doesn't mean much. Additionally, Chartwells' Frank-centric meal improvement approach has a heavy bias towards improving meal options for underclassmen, and as such, the Coop inadvertently gets put on the improvement back burner.
Alright, I'll yield this one thing: the garlic knots are pretty dope. Now bring back my sweet, sweet honey mustard.