Bring Back our Burgers and Jamba Juice!

By Laura K. Garrison

To where can Barnard students now turn for Jamba Juice?

Barnard, a grave injustice has been committed against us. Several weeks ago, Barnard students were alerted to the fact that they are no longer welcome to eat at JJ’s Place, Columbia’s beloved burger joint that serves up the best comfort food on campus, including chicken wings, omelets, fro-yo, and unlimited Jamba Juice. While an online petition has been created to garner support for a change in policy, there’s something not quite right about this situation.

The first time I ate at JJ’s was halfway through my sophomore year in late 2012, when I was told that Barnard students could use meal swipes at JJ’s but were not allowed to swipe into the mysterious basement dining hall after 8pm. Because Hewitt Dining Hall provides a Late Night option from 8:30pm to 11pm, JJ’s was not open to Barnard students after 8pm, though students who had already swiped in were allowed to stay. This rule, to my knowledge, has effectively been in place for the past two years, and not once did I have an issue swiping in for a meal at JJ’s.

According to the FAQ page on Columbia Dining’s website, Barnard students are technically not allowed to eat at JJ’s under the Barnard meal plan. If this has been true for the past two years, how has the dining staff on both sides of campus been able to overlook this error? Surely somebody must know the policies regarding the meal exchange and could have caught on sooner. More upsetting is the fact that I had to find out about the denial of JJ’s to Barnard students from another publication on campus. Why didn’t Barnard alert us to the fact that JJ’s Place was no longer an option? Were they hoping this issue would quietly get swept under the rug and avoid the inevitable fallout from students?

I’m happy that I had one last opportunity to enjoy JJ’s this year, while some Barnard students must bask in the glow of distant memories from last spring. There’s no doubt that I’ll miss the burgers and curly fries and dousing chicken tenders in sweet chili sauce, but it’s about more than that. JJ’s is truly the one place on this campus that is totally devoid of studying, work, or any other worry we have hanging over us on a daily basis. People don’t eat at JJ’s because they’re hungry, they go because they want to get away. JJ’s is the one place where I can turn on a TV without having someone bother me about changing the channel. It’s the one place where I can tuck into burger and fries without having to worry about whether I should be eating salad and gluten-free pasta. And it’s the one place I go after a long day of handing in papers and completing exams, because I know nobody will question how much homework I have to do that night.

So gloriously lax. 

This whole conflict, however, is indicative of just how ridiculous the Barnard dining situation is. We’re all forced to purchase a meal plan, even commuter students, so that Barnard is guaranteed some level of income from dining. Students who live in Hewitt (as I did for two years) are forced to purchase a whopping 150-meal, 400+ points per semester (and every semester I had anywhere from 30 to 10 meals left over), because we don’t have access to kitchens. This really irked me, because as often as Barnard likes to refer to us as bold, beautiful women, they clearly don’t trust us enough to know at the ages of 19 to 22 how to feed ourselves (plus I’m sure they’re making money hand over fist by making us purchase meal plans costing over $2,000 each semester). Unlike our peers at Columbia, NYU, and other schools located in cities and suburbs across the country, we are unable to use our points at outside establishments for groceries or snacks. Instead, we have to buy overpriced, and frankly often weird, food from Liz’s Place or meals from the Diana, which never seems to be open when I’m hungry. We’re also not allowed to swipe in friends for some ridiculous unexplainable reason. In short, Barnard is taking advantage of us through our meal plans, and we as a student body need to recognize this.

When I graduate in May, I’d like to know that I affected some change on this campus. I’ve often complained about the meal plan to friends, and I think this is the change I’d most like to see take place. Dining at college shouldn’t be something we have to put up with, it should be something to look forward to. We should be welcome to eat with students on both sides of campus in all dining halls and shouldn’t have arbitrary rules preventing us from spending our money the way we want. JJ’s is host to activities and events for various clubs across campus, and this new rule effectively keeps Barnard students from participating. I encourage you to sign the petition above and speak with your representatives in SGA and Barnard’s administration. A policy like this just isn’t unfair, it’s indicative of a much greater problem with the dining here at Barnard.

Laura K. Garrison is a senior at Barnard and Senior Editor of The Nine Ways of Knowing.

Images courtesy of SAS .


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