“What house are you from?”
I panic. I’m a deer in the headlights. I can’t breathe. Lie? Run? My Adams sticker came out in the wash?
“We’re, I’m, we’re freshmen. Wigg.”
She smiles. Big. She’s enjoying this.
“You can’t eat here. Ever. Ever ever ever. Not now. Not ever. Never.”
Actually, I made up the last part. She didn’t say ever. But she may as well have; our rag-tag band of entryway-mates has been turned away from Adams so many times we’re starting to wonder whether they actually serve food or if the dining hall is actually just a front for a University meth lab.
So what do we do instead? We certainly aren’t going to go back to Wigg and eat Cup-Noodles (not every night anyway), and we certainly aren’t going to go to Annenberg, which to us Wiggies might as well be in Guam at 7 p.m. on a Thursday night. Besides, who wants to eat among the immature, the collective bottom rung, sitting at their long tables in their dirty mead hall wondering aloud “Do you think he likes me like that?” while scribbling stars and happy faces on their expos assignments and still swinging their free, FDO issued (read: nappy) Harvard lanyards? I’m sophisticated. I’m a little more mature than the average first year. I do my own laundry. I’m classy. I want culture. I want upperclass girls. So where do we usually go?
Alas, imagine my horror at learning that Winthrop, our last bastion of free and uninhibited dining, is no longer an open house. Another door closed in a first-year face. Another single tear. Another watery glass of cranberry juice and dollop of sandy low-fat cream cheese. Another chickwich. And another. And another.
Dear God, why?
Overcrowding is cited as the issue that prompted this decision. This seems wholly reasonable, but the problem might not be caused as much by interhouse dining as it is by the awkward dining hall hours. Few students eat dinner promptly at five and many scramble to get to the dining halls before closing at 7:15 p.m. The troublesome hours compounded with interhouse restrictions leave many time-strapped students without many options. This group includes many athletes who get out from practice in Allston around 7 p.m. and have to rush to their dining halls or spend another meal at The Wrap. Or maybe we should ask them to please go back to Wigg and eat another Cup-Noodles.
Then again, this is all easy to fix: extending open hours to 8 p.m. or even sliding hours forward a half hour would alleviate some of the rush and thus the crowding at little or no additional cost to the University. If Harvard University Dining Services (HUDS) Executive Director Ted A. Mayer is serious about making dining “convenient” and “comforting” as he writes on the HUDS website, dinner hours should be changed and interhouse restrictions lessened at least. If not, I’ll just have to stock up on Cup-Noodles.
—Peter Charles Mulcahy is an editorial comper.