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In a recent attempt to better accommodate students whose class schedules overlap with Harvard University Dining Services’ lunch hours, HUDS announced that it would adjust its lunch hours by opening 30 minutes earlier on weekdays. The need for an altered lunch schedule became salient in light of the College’s new 2018-2019 schedule, which eliminates Harvard Time and features longer classes with 15-minute breaks between each. Despite allowing for more time to travel between the Yard and Harvard’s Allston campus, which is set to open in 2020, the new schedule overwhelmingly wreaked logistical havoc on the lives of students. Many were forced to opt between lunch and attending class. In light of student complaints, this development on the part of HUDS is a good first step towards restoring order to the lives of Harvard students.
While we appreciate and welcome the new change HUDS has made to the lunch schedule, this solution does not alleviate everyone’s problems. As students seek quick alternatives to skipping lunch altogether, the lines at Fly-By remain staggeringly long. Bagged lunches, while convenient for a time-pressed schedule, consistently do not provide enough sustenance for students who rely on them due to the time pressures of the new schedule. Extending meal hours by a half an hour does fix some students’ problems, but many remain unable to eat lunch. A better solution is needed. However, the onus should not be on HUDS to address the insufficiencies of the College’s new schedule.
Harvard needs to understand that its choices are not made in a vacuum — that they affect students’ lives and the operations of other University organizations. In addition to soliciting student input on future logistical changes to student life, such as the proposal to eliminate shopping week, the University should coordinate with other organizations to orchestrate these changes. If Harvard wants to sidestep student input on proposed changes, it should at the very least fully align all operations prior to the start of the school year to ensure that students’ qualities of life does not suffer.
For the time being, Harvard should collaborate with HUDS to ensure that all students have access to lunch. If the most the dining halls can do is open for lunch a half hour early, then Harvard and HUDS should consider more unconventional methods to facilitate student meals. For example, the University should consider expanding Fly-By, potentially to new locations, to combat the intensified frequency and long lines it has witnessed this school year. Not only would this alleviate foot traffic in the Memorial Hall basement location, but it would also allow for students whose classes are not near Memorial Hall to receive a quick dining solution in the midst of a jam-packed schedule.
Alternatively, Harvard should consider expanding its bagged lunch program by making the meals more nutritious and plentiful, so that students do not feel as though they need to supplement their HUDS-provided meal with snacks using their own money. A more innovative solution Harvard could explore is expanding the BoardPlus amount given to students. In this way, students can eat meals at one of the cafes across campus that accept BoardPlus. If the nearest dining hall is prohibitively difficult to reach in 15 minutes, students could use the cafes as an alternative.
Ultimately, we ask that as Harvard moves forward in instituting changes that affect the lives of its students, it thinks about these changes in a holistic manner rather than as isolated updates. In the meantime, we urge Harvard to continue proactively addressing student concerns with the new class schedule, primarily those related to meal access.
This staff editorial is the product of discussions at regular Editorial Board meetings. In order to ensure the impartiality of our journalism, Crimson editors who choose to opine and vote at these meetings are not involved in the reporting of articles on similar topics.
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