Southside Packed with Students Hoping for Last Chance at Dining Hall Food

Alexandria McAlpine/Fourth Estate


Editor’s note: This piece is a work of fiction written for Fourth Estate’s satire issue, Faux Estate.

The students remaining on campus are the lucky ones. It seems like just yesterday my friends and I were complaining we didn’t know the next time we would get to consume the deliciousness that is Sodexo Dining.

Oh wait, it was yesterday.

The week before spring break we, along with every other level-headed student on campus, crowded the lines at Southside trying to get their fill of jalapeno bacon cupcakes before going home to their parents’ generic homemade meals. We were all destined for TV dinners for a week.

And now the torment continues: homemade meals for the foreseeable future for every student. Except the lucky few students who have yet to move out of the dorms and are getting Southside take-out.

What is Southside take-out? It’s the clever solution to social distancing plus dining hall food service. Students walk in, collect their food in a bag and walk out, limiting their exposure to the pandemic.

If there is anything better than the gourmet food at Southside, it’s the fast-food version of Southside.

Take two amazing college stereotypes — dining hall food and take-out — and combine them. Honestly, why didn’t someone think of this my freshman year? Four years I could’ve had Southside take-out at 1 a.m. on a Friday, my brain fuzzy from studying so hard.

Ike’s was the first valuable building on campus to be overtaken by the coronavirus, but Southside, the superior dining hall, has thus far stuck it out. This may be the final week to get your fix of reheated chicken and burger patties.

The true heroes of the world are the chefs at our dining halls. There is a global pandemic, and here they are on the front lines, preparing food for starving scholars.

During my undercover investigation of the operations of Southside in these dire times, I found it is set up exactly the same. Students are still lining up out the door hoping for a hot meal to fill them up.

Patrons are handed a plastic bag to fill up with goodies from each station: salad, hamburgers, fries, eggs and bacon, and even a cookie spread. Imagine going to the greatest buffet in the world — it’s like that, but better.

Some students have started camping outside the entrance of Southside to secure their spot in the front of the line at the opening hour. Now that people must practice social distancing, even fewer students can get inside the dining hall at a time.

On a normal day, if you want a table at Southside at peak lunch hour, you’re out of luck. The floor is the only free space available. Only the elite few get seating at this five-star restaurant.

Now with the threat of their fix getting cut off, students are hurrying to pack the dining hall for a final meal. If my life were about to end, my last request would be dinner at Southside. It tastes of freedom.

I’ve seen students walking out of Southside with up to five large parcels full of delicious treats. If anything, the dining hall is doing even better business. People are hoarding food to store in their freezers. That way, on month four of quarantine, when the craving for a hard-boiled egg from Southside hits, we will be prepared.

I don’t blame them. I may take a page from their book.

Rest assured: For the time being, Southside remains open. But who can say for how much longer?

It will be a tragic day when the warm smell of greasy food no longer emanates from the building.