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Gimme Some Good Grubbin'


By Eric F. Brown

For some people, it's called "Freshman Week." For others, it's called Ramadan.

You know, the month-long period of fasting. People of Islamic faith choose to do it, forsaking food between sunrise and sunset. Here, upperclass students have to do it, forsaking non-greasy food for a week and a half. But while people of Islamic faith achieve a deeper sense of religious peace during their fast, Harvard students can only achieve a purple tongue during their fast.

Case in point: me. I arrived here in Cambridge on September 3, the day after Labor Day. Housing wasn't going to open for another few days, so I stayed in special pre-registration housing in Quincy House.

The dining halls were closed for that period of time, of course; it would be silly of them to open the dining halls before move-in day. So I survived by chowing down at local restaurants, figuring that a couple of days of it wouldn't be too bad.

Friday came, and upperclassmen and women started to move in. It was then I learned that the dining halls would be closed for another week.

That's right--another week. Why did they open the dorms before opening the dining halls? That's like giving us bed frames without mattresses, or keys but no door locks. Hello, Harvard people, it's called "room and board," not just "room."

So what did we students do? Get scurvy. For nine days, my vegetable intake consisted of the tomatoes on a Tommy's grinder. If I started to get rashes, I'd buy some orange juice at CVS.

As hell week went on, things started getting desperate. I felt like an onion appetizer at Chili's. I memorized all the posters at Mrs. Bartley's (like, this is your brain on hamburger grease). I actually considered eating at the Kong.

Look what I was reduced to! Can't we at least open Winthrop, for God's sake? Enough with this subsidization of Harvard Square businesses! Enough with this nickel-and-diming on a $29,000 tuition! Enough of the %$*ing Border!

You don't even know how much I drooled over the food eaten by the varsity athletes at Eliot. They have been here since late August for fall practices, so they continued to get the usual all-you-can eat-for-free fare.

But how would I have gotten in? I'm 5'10, about 130 lbs., and not very imposing. Can you picture this working?

[Checker]: Stop, wait a minute. What team are you on?

[Me, wearing a white baseball hat]:

[Checker]: (chuckles) What position?

[Me]: Uh...I'm a...kicker...foreign, uh, si, yo es de Mexico. Me yammo, uh, Erico Zendejas...

[Checker]: (into phone) Security, please...

You see, this would have been a doomed effort. And I didn't even want to try to sneak into the military dictatorship otherwise known as Annenberg Hall. So I just tried to survive any way I could.

A couple of days after I got here, I went to Harvard Sports Information to get some releases on some stories I was doing. There was a box of potato chip bags sitting on the floor, and the Assistant SI Director, Mike Jack-man, saw me eying them hungrily. He gave me one, which was pretty smart of him, because he knows that the way to any reporter's heart is through his or her stomach.

Now that it's all over, and the dining halls are open again, I feel energized and ready to fight. There is absolutely no justification for keeping the dining halls closed like this in the future.

Are we all supposed to move into our rooms in one food-provided day? Is this all a ploy to make us appreciate dining hall food?

No wonder Mike Berry left town so fast--he could sense the riots coming.

There's got to be a way that we can eat. What if we all sent Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis '68 e-mails over the summer saying when we'd be getting back to Harvard? Then he would know how many dining halls he'd have to open up.

Or what if the administration just opened some of them? I could deal with a line if it meant not eating at one of the Greenhouses for a 24-hour span.

But then again, the dining halls aren't worth fighting too much. Two nights ago, the main course was some Chinese pork chop concoction. It looked like shake-'n-bake pork covered with sand. I'm not even Jewish, but I know that I'd go through any religion's hell for eating that sludge.

Border, anyone?

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