Opinion: Dear NYU Eats, keep more locations open over break

Downstein should not be the only dining hall open during spring break.


Echo Chen

File photo: The Downstein dining hall. (Echo Chen for WSN)

Molly Koch, Deputy Opinion Editor

Many NYU students leave the city over spring break — some vacation with friends, others return home to spend time with family. For those who remain on campus, though, living on an NYU Eats meal plan is difficult. During this spring break, NYU Eats closed 11 out of 12 dining halls across the Washington Square and Brooklyn campuses, leaving only Downstein — a notoriously mediocre option — as the only source of food for students not vacationing.

For those who stay on campus during the breaks, eating becomes an inconvenience — especially for students in traditional-style dorms, which don’t have kitchens. And with the ever-increasing cost of food in New York City, it is difficult to seek out inexpensive eating options. It feels wrong to eat out when you can simply go to a dining hall, given that each meal swipe can cost upwards of $14. For students, eating out for a week may be too much for their budgets, on top of their already-expensive meal plans.

Though Downstein is located in close proximity to many first-year residence halls, it is quite a distance for upperclass students, who typically live in dorms that are further away from the Washington Square Park area. For sophomores, juniors and seniors on meal plans, every meal could mean having to travel a few stops on the bus or train. It doesn’t help that there is no “spring” during spring break in New York City — on at least one day of this year’s break, it rained and flurried consistently with near-freezing temperatures.

NYU Eats told WSN that decisions to leave dining halls open during the break are made based on historical usage data.

Students grabbing a bite to eat at Downstein have a choice of fries, pasta with alfredo sauce or even soft-serve ice cream. But for the entire spring break week, if it were really up to the students, Downstein probably would not have been the popular choice — especially for those who are vegan or have other dietary restrictions. Considering Downstein’s limited vegan options, staying on campus for spring break with this dietary restriction can get tiring.

Operating extra dining halls during breaks does raise logistical problems related to staffing, upkeep, and expenses. But surely NYU, a university of over 25,000 undergraduates, could allocate resources to keep at least one other dining hall open over the break. Being able to eat on campus should not be the hassle it is, especially during breaks. Opening more dining halls, or simply allowing students a say in deciding which ones are open during breaks, are crucial steps toward making dining more accessible.

WSN’s Opinion section strives to publish ideas worth discussing. The views presented in the Opinion section are solely the views of the writer.

Contact Molly Koch at [email protected].