New dining doesn’t account for commuters

After almost two years of construction, the Brown-Lupton University Union, or the BLUU, is finally here. As the administration line tells us, it was planned with the students in mind.

Unfortunately, the cafeterias, particularly the new Market Square, seemed designed only with the on-campus student in mind.

Of course, students living on campus need and will frequent the new Market Square more than off-campus students. That’s true of any college. Still, where I live is about a 10-minute walk from campus, so going home for lunch isn’t feasible, and I can’t survive on tuna sandwiches and cup-of-soups alone. But to eat lunch at Market Square, I have to pay $8. According to the U.S. Department of Labor Web site, the current minimum wage is $6.55. We off-campus students have to pay for gas, food and electricity too. I know food prices are going up, but $8 can buy about 24 packets of Ramen noodles at the local Fiesta Mart. You can’t cook it on the way to class, but at least you can carry it out with you. This isn’t a problem for the on-campus students, because they have to buy the meal plans, which can include unlimited swipes. Yes, off-campus students can purchase the dining plans as well, but that sort of defeats the purpose of why we moved off campus in the first place.

Once students get in, they have to make sure they are getting their money’s worth. This depends a lot on what is available each day. On one day, for lunch, I had a large Greek salad from the Shuffles station, an apple and a Cherry Coke, and still had plenty of room on the plate, while on a another day, I made the nutritionally unsound decision to go though the line another time not because I was still hungry, but I wanted to make sure I didn’t fork over $8 for just a grilled cheese sandwich and fries. Once again, this might not be a problem for students with the dining plan because they can purchase unlimited swipes, so by the end of the semester the plan has paid for itself.

Then, there’s seating. With my schedule, I usually don’t eat lunch until 2 or 3 p.m., so overcrowding has not been a problem for me, though I have heard those complaints. But when I’m between classes and can’t eat with my friends, I do get the feeling like it’s high school all over again – of course, I was homeschooled, which probably also explains that feeling.

Once I’m done, I have to get back to class. It took me exactly seven minutes and 34 seconds — yes, I timed myself – to walk back to the Skiff newsroom, which is near to both of the classrooms where I have 83 percent of my classes – yes, I calculated that too– – from the BLUU. The BLUU is almost perfectly situated for the dormitories, but it is rather out of the way for a trip from or to the east side of campus, where more of the classes are, especially considering that you have to circumnavigate all of the construction around Reed Hall.

I know the Union is a brand new experiment for TCU, and so things can’t be perfect for everybody right away. But if the university really wants to make the BLUU a place all students will gather, it needs to make sure it takes the consideration of all students into account.

Valerie Hannon is a senior news-editorial major from Allen.