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Opinion: The Dining Halls Should be Open During Thanksgiving Break

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Thanksgiving break is practically here, and for most of us students, that means making the long trek home to spend the holiday with our families. But that doesn’t apply to every student that goes to school here. Some students, for a variety of different reasons, have to spend the Thanksgiving break here on campus. And from Wednesday to Saturday, all of the dining halls on campus are closed. Because of this, University at Albany is showcasing a system that is more concerned about its employees working rather than its students being fed.

Daniel Russell

The one population most impacted by this closure is international students, and for most of them, going back home isn’t a feasible option due to the short length of the break. So as a result, they’re stuck here. For these students that live on campus (especially the five quads), the dining hall may be their number one source for food. And with the dining hall’s closure during Thanksgiving, what are their options?

As far as eating on campus goes, there’s basically no options for Thanksgiving break. In addition to the dining halls being closed, almost everything in the campus center is closed from Wednesday to Saturday. The only thing that’s open during this time is the 518 Market, which is open from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Wednesday. So for these students, the only option for food is off campus, where they have to spend even more money.

And for these students who can’t drive, they’re forced to either order delivery, costing additional money, or take the bus in the cold to get food from grocery stores. But once you actually get food and bring it back to the quads, how are you supposed to make it? Trick question: there’s no kitchens in the quads. Unless you enjoy making soup or macaroni and cheese in a microfridge for four days in a row, you’re likely going to wind up going elsewhere for your meals.

But even in the first place, students here are paying for a meal plan, so shouldn’t we have access to it? Meal plans can cost upwards of $2,750, and for this period of time, they’re unusable. The only thing you can use them for during the break is vending machines on campus, which isn’t enough to constitute a full meal. Instead, you’re forced to buy food to bring back to your dorm, which costs more money in addition to what you’re already paying for a meal plan.

Meanwhile, among the problems that these students face during this time, dining hall workers don’t have a thing to worry about. For them, the break is nothing more than that, not working while students don’t have a food source on campus. The only real benefit in this entire situation belongs to the school, who saves money by not having to pay workers and keep up maintenance.

Because of this closure, it seems as if the school favors saving money over providing for its students. The university chooses to close down all the food sources, and then basically says to its students “Oh well, you’re on your own for this time.” The solution to this problem is a difficult one, and I imagine the school wouldn’t be in support of keeping the regular hours up during the break. Instead, maybe the school could open up the dining hall for a few hours each day, or perhaps give out meal vouchers to students staying over break. It would be much more accommodating than what they have set up now.

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Class of '18 - Daniel Russell is the opinions editor for the Albany Student Press, and helps come up with the debate topics each week. He’s an English major, and last summer, he interned for a website called Newscult, writing various entertainment articles.

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