They had all the warning in the world. The outcome was imminent for more than a year. Nearly everybody analyzing the situation said it wouldn’t turn out well. But nobody in control elected to do anything about it. It was like somebody seeing dark clouds and hearing the thunder but being surprised it rained shortly after. The lack of foresight is unprecedented and makes it difficult for me to chant the three letters that abbreviate this usually great place.
If you think those three letters are U-S-A, that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about TCU. The failure of the current meal plan is strikingly similar to the current financial crisis or turmoil or failure – whatever your preferred news source may call it. Now, I’m no economist; in fact I’m not even a pre-Neeley major, but the whole financial situation seems relatively simple if you take a step back. The way I understand it, the whole thing started with a bunch of credit companies issuing a whole lot of high-risk loans. Then, a group of people eager to superficially improve their lifestyles through buying cars, homes, HDTVs, etc., took aforementioned loans. After the loan recipients failed to repay the loans, the economic failure began. Seems quite predictable. Moral of the story: Don’t buy stuff you can’t afford with money you don’t have.
Shortly after it was announced the Brown-Lupton University Union would be open for the current semester, the prospective meal plan was announced. Just like financial analysts and economists predicting the eventual failure of our sound financial market, TCU student leaders and the student body voiced their disapproval of the potential new meal plan. If you read the Skiff or logged onto Facebook, it was pretty clear the student body didn’t support the proposed plan – and if you look at the plan, there’s little reason that they would.
We have shifted from a minimum $1,400 per semester plan with more than five different options on campus to a plan that costs $1,799 or more and is centralized to one location. Of course that isn’t going to be welcomed. To add to the gross negligence of convenience and flexibility, TCU has completely alienated the group of students most affected by the change – that group being the Worth Hills residents.
Of the more than 600 students living in Worth Hills, besides Brachman residents who are mostly freshmen now, almost every single one of them lived in a freshmen dorm last year. That means those students were accustomed to a meal plan that was marked different. Now, not only do those residents have a different meal plan, but they also live the farthest from the BLUU.
School’s response? Ride the Frog Shuttle. That sounds great except for the fact that the bus is constantly running late, and the route is based upon getting to the middle of campus instead of the BLUU. Keep in mind, new students must live on campus for two years, and campus residents must purchase a meal plan.
Regardless of how inflexible and inconvenient the current plan is – especially to Worth Hills residents – I still think if the quality of food is improved, students would almost be universally satisfied. College students are very open to change. Most of our lives change from week to week, if not daily. Unfortunately, the food in the BLUU is still painfully mediocre and inconsistent, as well as the customer service.
The food is simply not good. If I paid 99 cents for a burger at McDonald’s, and they tricked me by giving one from Market Square, I would ask for a refund. But TCU students pay around $15 per day, and some of the food is still worse than the dollar-menu fast food.
As far as customer service, with the exception of a few genuinely friendly workers, I am consistently amazed at what I see. On the positive side, it might give the BLUU a homely atmosphere in which the workers yell at each other and sometimes students too, but it certainly isn’t professional. If we’re going to invest in fancy employee uniforms and metal chairs with an engraved horned frog in the background, one would only expect that we would develop a standard for customer relations. However, it simply isn’t the case.
I don’t have enough fingers to count the number of times I’ve seen an employee raise their voice at somebody impolitely who is asking for something reasonable. How can you blame somebody for wanting a little extra meat when the portions on the plate wouldn’t feed a first-grader? Interacting with workers at the BLUU is often like being a new student at a big public high school – extremely awkward and slightly intimidating.
A recent Skiff article examined the innovative process used in Market Square to recycle uneaten food to feed farm animals. When reading the article, I was fairly impressed with the process, but I had to laugh. I just hoped the pigs enjoyed eating the food I left on my plate, which I didn’t like.
John Andrew Willis is a sophomore environmental science major from Dallas.