Oh god, they might already be unenrolling me now.

Dining halls. We eat there! Sometimes, we enjoy it! But if I’ve learned anything from my two semesters and one month of eating at Barnumbia dining halls, it’s that my parents should never ever step foot into a single one of them. 

Meet Jennifer and Matthew: the very funny, highly supportive (if not slightly overprotective), Jewish parents from your dreams!  

Here are the legends themselves, posing with a Morningside Heights trash can because they saw it in a TV show.

Jennifer and Matthew have never been to a Barnumbia dining hall, but let’s imagine a reality where they do. A reality, that almost certainly will end in them immediately unenrolling me from this institution. So, let’s take a journey. What would Jennifer and Matthew say about each dining hall? And what percentage is the likeliness of this suspected unenrollment? Let’s find out. 

1. Hewitt:

After a long walk through the tunnels, we would arrive at Hewitt, and Jennifer and Matthew are already feeling overwhelmed by the amount of people. However, upon entering, they’re met with a happy sight. Is this Hillel? This is the Kraft Center? Not quite, it’s Hewitt! Home of the only Kosher Dining hall and second home to the entirety of my fellow JTS student body. Matthew feels right at home, remembering his days in AEPI. Jennifer, while still suspicious, is happy to see the amount of people I’m waving to. They are very upset with the food. 

Likelihood of Unenrollment: 80%. They’re concerned for my nutrition and emotional well-being, but are holding off. 

What would Jennifer and Matthew say? “The food is yucky but at least you have a Minyan!”

2. Chef Don’s

Don’s, Don’s, Don’s. Jennifer and Matthew won’t have a lot to say about Don’s. They’re trying to put on a brave face for me but they’re horrified by the food. Why is the cheese like that? Why is the crust so puffy? But they like the seating area and we manage to get one of the pretty booths by the window. They’re feeling relatively ok, then they bite into one of the cannolis.  I’m done for. 

Likelihood of Unenrollment: 88%. They’re definitely worried now, their hands are inching towards that unenroll button. 

What would Jennifer and Matthew say? “Clara, we make better pizza than this at home, you should come home, we’ll make it for you, you’ll be so much happier, do you need a train ticket? We can buy one right now.” 

3. Diana 

Just the thought of having to guide them towards the line pouring down the stairs, I know they would already be suspicious. After being pushed and herded into the smoothie line (accidentally), then into the pizza line (again, accidentally), we would finally make it to the bowl lines. Now, we have our food. They get it, ok? They get that it’s close to my classes, it’s (sort of) fast, it’s (sort of) easy. But after Jennifer stares down at her burrito bowl filled with uncooked rice and Matthew picks at the random pieces of broccoli in his bowl of what’s supposed to be chana masala, their minds have been made up.

Likelihood of Unenrollment: 90%. Not every meal can be perfect, they get that. But that can’t stop the thoughts from creeping in. 

What would Jennifer and Matthew say? “Clara, please tell me this isn’t the dining hall you said you eat at five times a week. Your tummy can’t handle this.” 

4. Chef Mike’s: 

I know what you’re thinking, ok: Maybe they just don’t like crowds, you should take them to Chef Mike’s, it’s pretty spacious there. Think again. Chef Mike’s is a nightmare zone! You might think they’d appreciate the slightly less chaotic vibe, but Mike’s has a danger in the form of the bread, which just in time for me to take Jennifer and Matthew for dinner, has turned over into the rock-hard, jaw-locking territory. Jennifer and Matthew, who are sharing a roast beef sandwich with mustard, almost break off a tooth! I’d comfort them with a nice cup of lentil soup, taking them down off the ledge of unenrollment, but they’re still horrified at the food, specifically the gargantuan portion sizes. 

Likelihood of Unenrollment: 95%. They’re taking me off the meal plan. Only the soup saved me. 

What would Jennifer and Matthew say? *Insert aggressive Seinfeld quotes at the sight of black and white cookies*

5. Ferris

Now, Ferris. Whoever designed the layout of Ferris must’ve intentionally had the suffering of Barnumbia students in mind. Ferris is a hellscape for Jennifer and Matthew, trying to get to the front of the action station line is enough to send them into a frantically nervous state (As we all are, we’ve just learned to suffer through it). After 25 minutes of waiting in line and being pushed by at least 500 people trying to get to safety away from this madness, we finally collect our food, only to find that the cheese in the grilled cheese for is unmelted. Matthew’s already making his way to the lounges to unenroll me. 

Likelihood of Unenrollment: 99%. Only an impassioned speech about how suffering gives me character will save me now. 

What would Jennifer and Matthew say? “How’d they get all those strawberries? Strawberries aren’t in season! Where are they getting them, and in this amount?!”

6. John Jay 

John Jay always has an air of desperation and misery. Jennifer and Matthew are terrified by the crowds and pure amount of Columbia men stacked around one singular circular table. See, but I thought ahead, so we grab take-out boxes, pile them up, then head outside to one of the tables in the courtyard. Jennifer and Matthew are pleased at the amount of options and are mildly enjoying the food, particularly the ice cream (From the machine, not the tubs), but then. Then. One of the beloved John Jay rats decides to scurry their way past us. The unenrollment has already gone through by the time we make it to the safety of Lowe Steps. 

 Likelihood of Unenrollment: 100%. The Goldberg’s are a family of germaphobes, and fraidy-cats in the face of rodents. 

What would Jennifer and Matthew say? “Clara, why do you eat here? There’s people fighting to scoop ice cream out of a communal tub.”

7. JJ’s Place 

Finally. They’ve heard the tales, tales of the the dining hall that gave me food poisoning not once, but twice last year. With our breaths held, we make our way down that dreaded staircase, past JJ’s express, and into the place itself. Is the air getting thicker? Why is non-Taylor’s Version Taylor Swift blasting from the loudest speaker we’ve heard in our lives? Why did some guy just push us out of the way while holding a stack of fries as high as his head? But, surprise! If you thought for even a second that we would get this far is optimistic of you, Jennifer and Matthew wouldn’t make it past JJ’s express, they wouldn’t make it down the stairs. They’re staying a 50 yard radius away at all times, cowering behind the Hamilton statue in fear. Rightfully so.  

Likelihood of Unenrollment: 100%. undoubtedly. Jennifer would pull me out of school before we even got to the front of the fry line. 

What would Jennifer and Matthew say? “Why is the salad bar just celery sticks, hummus, and a bin of hard boiled eggs?”

Note to self: do not take Jennifer and Matthew to any Barnumbia dining hall for their own sake and yours. This advice can apply to you reading this too. When your parents visit, force them to take you to the most expensive restaurant in the area that you can’t usually afford on your own. That’s my number one piece of advice.

Matthew And Jennifer With The Trash Can via Clara Goldberg