Please just let me mooch off my friend’s guest swipes. 

Two weeks ago I ran into a friend after getting out of class. As we walked down the steps of Hamilton she mentioned that she was going to John Jay for lunch, and asked me to come with. I don’t have a meal plan, but she offered to swipe me in. When we got to the front desk, however, I wasn’t allowed despite having a green pass and vaccine card: when indoor dining reopened, Columbia Dining specifically said that only people with a meal plan would be allowed.

Columbia Dining announced this change in a post on their website titled “Indoor Seating to Begin in Residential Dining on October 13” which included a few precautions “to ensure the health and safety of our community.” The most notable of these is that “Dining Dollars, Flex, credit cards or guest swipes will not be accepted.” It’s absurd to think that this rule will make the dining halls any safer. Every student on campus has filled out a Green Pass as a way of attesting that they are safe to be there. Having a dining plan doesn’t mean a student is safer, it just means a student has a dining plan. It’s clearly not about limiting the number of people inside either: the dining halls are operating at full capacity and work under the assessment that this is safe. There are no regulations on students with meal swipes going in at peak hours so it’s not as if it is only that they care about how many students are there. If they truly cared about limiting the capacity of the dining halls they would still be encouraging people to be using takeout containers, they clearly aren’t doing this either. The dining halls have completely returned to normal, with the one ridiculous exemption that meal swipes are not allowed to be shared.

When I was a freshman, I would always have extra meal swipes, and so every Friday I would swipe in upperclassmen to the dining hall after Games Club. It was a great way to meet people who I may not have met otherwise, and a great way for them to get free food. The dining halls are great places for social life, especially considering how expensive many of the restaurants are near campus. Columbia dining even recognizes the social aspect of the dining halls: there’s a reason why every freshman is required to have a meal plan. It isn’t only about the food, these are places where students can run into each other or just simply spend time together. Their website even explicitly says that the plans “are specifically designed to encourage community building.” Why, then, do they make policies which specifically stop communities from being built?

Every freshman is required to be on a meal plan. Many upperclassmen chose to stay on them. Every freshman paid for six guest swipes at the beginning of the semester for a plan the university forced them to get; many upperclassmen have these guest swipes as well. There’s literally no way to access them at this point, and no noise from Columbia Dining on whether they will ever be allowed to use them.

I just want to go and experience the #1 best dining hall in the country according to one article from three years ago. Is that too much to ask?

Ferris via Bwog Archives