Geller: In All Fairness to DDS
Reading yesterday’s column (“Demands for DDS,” March 3
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) by Jon Miller ’15, I was a bit surprised at the first sentence: “Despite student body dissatisfaction, Dartmouth Dining Services seems unwilling to improve the dining plans or the quality of food served to students.” Although DDS does have its flaws and could stand some improvements, I, for one, am not dissatisfied whatsoever. In fact, I know plenty of people who are also relatively pleased with the food options on campus. I believe that DDS works to please everyone by offering a wide variety of meal plans and food options.

Although I disagree with parts of his piece, I agree with Miller’s assertion that students should be able to use more than one meal swipe per meal period. Nothing is worse than ending a week with extra meal swipes, which is why I switched to the BlockChoice45 plan this fall from SmartChoice20. The plan eliminates the meal swipe problem because it consists of $925 in DBA and allows swipes to roll over from week to week. Yet I can’t agree with all of Miller’s claims. Dartmouth is a small school, and DDS cannot afford to lose money and stay open at the same time. The school’s size makes it difficult to add private vendors and franchises, more food trucks and allowing student DBA use at off-campus restaurants. A place like Subway might be cheaper than the Courtyard Cafe, but its options are more limited. The food truck coming to campus soon, The Box, is still an experiment, and no one knows exactly how it will work out. While I do think that The Box will ultimately be successful, DDS cannot just add multiple food trucks to campus because those trucks would draw business from the Hop, Collis, the Class of 1953 Commons and Novack. Dartmouth is simply too small to open more dining options and keep its existing options open. Obviously I have not seen the DDS financial statements, but outside of meal times, most dining halls are relatively empty. Multiple food trucks would exacerbate this problem. Furthermore, allowing students to spend DBA in local restaurants would also take business from DDS. If all of Miller’s suggestions were put into effect, could DDS stay open? I don’t know, but regardless, the school needs dining halls, and DDS cannot afford to lose money. The idea of rollover DBA sounds great, doesn’t it? Sure, but how many people ever have leftover DBA? I know I never do. In August, DDS Director David Newlove said that on average, students overcharge their DBA by about $200 per term. And if FoCo didn’t exist and everything were pay as you go, I would be even more negative in DBA than I usually am, and I know I am not alone. Despite its flaws, DDS is pretty darn good. We have an all-you-can-eat option as well as pay-as-you-go options. Many of my high school classmates complain about how expensive their dining plans are because they are all a la carte. Without FoCo, many students would spend more DBA than allotted by their meal plans. Athletes and hungry people in general would spend more money on food if there were no all-you-can-eat option. The beauty of DDS is that those who don’t like FoCo don’t have to eat there. We have choices. Ultimately, my point is that the current dining system is a good one. Nothing is perfect, and DDS is no exception. Dartmouth students should appreciate that DDS has tried to accommodate all of our preferences. And if you really hate every single option that much, cook for yourself or eat out. I know the rest of us would appreciate the shorter lines.
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