Central dining has a huge impact on campus social life because it brings everybody together on a daily basis. The huge social advantage to central dining almost compensates for what many students believe are serious flaws in the current dining system. Hours should be at least one hour later for every meal. Nobody gets up at 7:30 a.m. to eat breakfast, and many people would rather see dinnertime continue past 7:30 in the evening. The food itself usually cannot shake the bland aftertaste that central dining halls have become infamous for. The variety of dishes, however, is impressive. At every lunch and dinner, there are different traditional cuisines, meat, salads, fruit, dairy, pizzas, and desserts. The ice-cream machines are probably a fulfillment of a childhood fantasy for everyone. Outside of the dining hall, the only on-campus option is Schwemm’s, and while this is also a popular hangout with wonderful ambiance, you can’t possibly be fully satisfied with what the menu has to offer. How many ham and grilled cheese sandwiches can a person have in a day? The many restaurants and takeout places provide only a partial alternative, because, like it or not, Amherst students must live with Valentine dining hall through bad times and good.
Friends who live in faraway dorms just have to IM each other to meet for dinner. And students don’t have to worry about not seeing the person they’ve lent their notes to because everybody basically meets up at Val. Still, if you asked students what aspect of college life at Amherst they would most like to see improved, campus dining will be probably be it.