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The GW Hatchet

AN INDEPENDENT STUDENT NEWSPAPER SERVING THE GW COMMUNITY SINCE 1904

The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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PAUL closes in Western Market
By Ella Mitchell, Staff Writer • April 22, 2024

Perspective: GW’s dining halls make me sick

My biggest fear coming to college was the freshman 15. I’m a young, healthy girl — I work out, I make good food choices and I’m not opposed to the occasional disgusting green smoothie. It should’ve been fine, right?

But my fear showed up in an arguably much worse way: the freshman negative 15. Sure, my relatives from India all commented on how skinny I’ve gotten since arriving at GW, but my grandpa was worried. “You’re not round anymore!” he remarked the last time I picked up his FaceTime call. 

I didn’t sign up for Oprah’s rendition of Weight Watchers. I didn’t jump on the Ozempic craze either — I just ate GW dining hall food.

I’ve lost about 10 pounds, maybe more, since moving to Foggy Bottom. After eating at the University’s three dining halls, I always either throw up the food or run to the bathroom afterward. Neither of these outcomes justify paying nearly $3,000 per year.

Next year, I wanted to opt out of the dining plan, but GW requires it — no exceptions. When I emailed GW about my health issues, they declined to let me opt out and instead referred me to a campus-registered dietitian. Even for my future roommate, who is vegan and unable to eat most of the dining options, the University refused to exempt her.

I understand that, as first-years without access to a personal kitchen, requiring a meal plan ensures that students eat. But all I am ensured is a queasy stomach and inconvenient trips to the bathroom. GW Dining makes me feel so physically ill, but I also can’t resort to cooking full meals in a communal kitchen where other kids study and take over all four burners.

Sometimes I try to play it safe and just eat a salad from the Shenkman dining hall, but I still always end up walking away with nausea for 30-45 minutes. Walking up the steps of Thurston Hall while gagging and keeping lettuce down is no joke. So next year, if I am given a personal kitchen and better access to a grocery store, why should I have to pay for a dining plan?

Even if someone wanted to opt in on the dining options, their only choices are either an unlimited option or a Revolutionary 85 option. The unlimited option, which all first-years are required to get, resets swipes every hour, and the Revolutionary 85 option gives 85 unlimited swipe days throughout the semester. Sure, you get more dining dollars, but GW should instead work again with companies to allocate that money to grocery stores with fresh, local produce so that students can actually have access to healthy food.

If the University refuses to allow dining hall exemptions to students, then they must work on providing more nutritious food. I’m not the only one — there are accounts of food poisoning across campus and students posted on Reddit that Thurston Hall served them a pushpin in a cookie and raw food. GW has to allocate funds better and work on creating healthier, edible options for students, which is the bare minimum.

No student should be fighting for their safety and health on this campus nor going to class clutching their stomach because of dining hall food. It is time for GW Dining to take action, stop leeching students of their money and actually use it to help students rather than harm them. 

Ananya Gondesi, a first-year majoring in journalism and psychology, is an opinions writer.

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