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Students express frustration regarding quiet period meals, dorm conditions

Dietary restrictions, long lines, subpar living conditions pose challenges as students begin the semester

As Quiet Period restrictions confine students to their dorm rooms, some have expressed concerns about challenging living and dining conditions following their return to campus for the spring semester. 

These have included drafts of cold air, frigid showers and unclean residence halls, students told The Herald. Students and parents have also expressed concerns regarding long lines and low-quality meals at the dining halls. 

“The dining lines have been very long at the (Sharpe Refectory),” Abbey Carbajal ’23 said. “The first night I got dinner, I had to wait over 30 minutes in the cold to get my food.”

This was not the case during the fall semester Quiet Period, Carbajal said, adding that the lines to grab meals were not nearly as long and that all meal options were always available.

“I’m not normally one to complain about food, but it’s been pretty hit or miss with the meals so far, with more misses than hits,” Courtney Lysiak ’23 said. As a vegetarian, Lysiak expressed frustration that “all the dietary needs are lumped together in one vegan/gluten-free meal. … It’s a bit irritating having to choose between a fully meat meal or a fully vegan and gluten-free one since I don’t fit into either category.”

Both Lysiak and Carbajal expressed concerns on how these new challenges might encourage students to break Quiet Period restrictions. 

“Long lines and bad quality food will likely lead more people to break the rules by getting food from Thayer,” Carbajal said. 

Lysiak added that she felt that “there are already just so many more people disregarding COVID safety this semester.”

Quiet Period was a challenging time when, by necessity, Dining was limited to a certain style of service. We were pleased that the vast majority of students were able to navigate dining options well,” Jessie Curran, Assistant Director of Wellness and Nutrition at Brown Dining Services, wrote in an email to the Herald. “We appreciated students' patience during the temporary window and now that we have expanded our operation everyone is able to make selections based on their personal needs and preferences,” she added.

Alyssa Merritt ’23 spoke on her own difficulties finding Quiet Period meals that meet her dietary needs. “I’m allergic to gluten and have other food (and) digestion problems that make dining complicated even in a normal semester,” she said. “The first few days I really had a hard time eating because the Ratty ran out of the only meal option I was able to eat.” 

Merritt communicated her concerns and challenges to Curran, following which she was informed that meals would be set aside for her due to her dietary restrictions. Still, Merrit said, “I do get stressed about the possibility that there won’t be anything I can eat when I go to pick up meals.” 

Curran encouraged students with specific requests to contact Brown Dining Services directly for guidance in navigating their individual situations and needs. “Any feedback relevant to a broader context is considered by the Menu Development team which is composed of chefs, the dietitian, purchasers, inventory specialists, front of house managers and Senior Dining Leaders and adjustments are made based on that feedback,” she added.

Merritt also encountered unanticipated issues moving into her new residence hall in Graduate Center. “The first few nights, the heating was either not working or wasn’t turned on, so it was absolutely freezing,” she said. 

Jaime Torres Cesani ’23 voiced his own frustrations with the state of his room in Grad Center upon his arrival. “The room had not been cleaned,” he said. “There was leftover carry-on luggage beneath the bed, the curtains were falling from the rail, the carpet was noticeably left without a vacuum as the floor was full of lint and the bookshelf desk-chair combo was sticky as if something was left spilled on them,” he said. Torres added that he has contacted the Department of Facilities Management and is waiting for them to come and assist him.

Some students also had to move rooms between the semesters. “I found the experience to be very annoying,” Carbajal said. “We had to pack up everything in our dorms and then move them to storage with no assistance.” 

She added that her room this semester is much smaller than the one she lived in in the fall. 

“I genuinely don’t understand why they couldn’t just put freshmen in the empty dorms they moved us into,” Lysiak said. “But instead of this rational solution, Brown chose to make us move out, pay and organize storage and move in all during COVID, which seems like an added risk for campus infection.”


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