New Year, (Mostly) Same Southside


New classes, new professors, new… Southside? Maybe you’ve noticed that Southside dining hall has been advertising “Southside 2020” — improvements they’ve made in the new year, most notably their shift to being open 24/7. What exactly are these dining refinements? What are the implications of being open 24 hours a day? Are these changes for the better, or ultimately just a different kind of bad? Surely, changes have been made, but maybe they’re just new cogs in the same, rusty machine.

The most impactful change made to Southside is certainly being open 24 hours a day. Previously, Ike’s dining hall, of the freshman-only President’s Park, was open 24 hours a day. However, the much busier, much preferred Southside won the popular vote (a literal vote, that is, within the student government), and took Ike’s role as the only place to eat before your 8 a.m. Saturday shift.

Despite having been voted on, is this better or worse for the student body? Freshmen are the main dining hall customers, and freshmen are also the only residents of President’s Park. So the shift from Ike’s to Southside is certainly a bit of a blow to the freshman population, who are forced to pay $2,200 for a 10-minute walk in the cold if they want food after 11 p.m.

Staying open 24 hours isn’t the only change Southside has introduced. One of these other alterations is the amped-up smoothie bar. By adding eight all-new mixes to their selection, Southside has succeeded in offering several great dessert alternatives. This is a huge improvement from their previous four options, of which Green Pineberry seemed to be the only one anyone was interested in (although damn, do we miss Green Pineberry). Something else is that Southside appears to be training a slew of brand new, very enthusiastic chefs, and maybe this means a slew of new, better food will soon be upon us.

Now, I say “soon” because better food is not currently upon us. In fact, Southside seems to have actually changed their food for the worse. There’s a stark lack of variety, for one. Meals at the grilled station are routinely nothing more than various sandwiches, with bread that is curiously hard to bite into. This really makes you think, because a mere five feet away is a sandwich bar that offers much better, and much more variable options. Another disappointing change is their new late-night menu. Every single night  — cheeseburger sliders, ham and cheese sliders, meatball sliders. And they actually had a “grand opening” for this… The onion rings, mozzarella sticks, chicken nuggets and buffalo wings that students once excitedly waited until 10 o’clock for are now gone. Gone too is the delicious macaroni, the caesar salads and a slew of other meals largely favored by students. Why would Southside actively remove the crowd favorites? Just one more mystery of the bizarre management that we could only hope to understand.

While most of their changes have been largely disappointing, the fact that Southside is seeking improvement is a good thing in and of itself. As always, Southside’s strengths are complemented by their faults, but again, if it keeps heading in the direction of change, something good will have to come eventually. Right…?