As a senior who has spent all four years living in the back of campus, I can say—with vigor and passion—that I HATE the cafe. Dunn and Mayberry are both the same and anyone that says differently needs to go with that house-slave mentality. The walk, the food, the weather on the walk, nine out of ten times it’s just not worth the effort to go to the café because the food is going to find a new way to be disappointing.

Now, it’s no one’s fault. The two cafes are responsible for feeding over a thousand people with a shoestring budget and eating the same food for four years would tire anyone out, so it’s not surprising that I’m so done with the on-campus dining. But as a paying customer, I’m not getting enough value for my money. You spend a little over $1,600 for an on-campus meal plan that gives a minimum of 12 meals a week and a maximum of $300 as a declining balance.

Meanwhile, I’m only going to the café 3 times a week, if that, so I’m wasting a lot of money. I imagine that I am not alone in this and that there is a large number of students on-campus who also are wasting their money.

Just opting out is not an option. Southern University’s official policy is that “participation in the campus dining is required” for students living on campus unless you have a specific medical or religious reason and can provide documentation. I think that’s a little messed up. Why do I have to pay for food I don’t want?

The reason I live on-campus is because with COVID-19 and the way the spring semester ended, it just worked out better for me to stay on-campus; it also had the added benefit that since all my friends were out-of-state students too, we’d all still be on-campus together, and the apartments on-campus are about the same quality of the Palisades.

I have a car, I have the means to support myself, and I live in a space where I can cook. As far as I am concerned, the university is hustling me out of my money, they’ve been hustling me for two years now, and I’m done with it. I came to Louisiana with a shell-fish allergy and have learned that it is just better if I cook for myself.

The fact that you can’t just opt out of the meal plan and that you have to provide a reason, is really predatory to me especially because a lot of upperclassmen are in exactly the same position as me. The café gets old after two years and the sixteen hundred would be better spent elsewhere.

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