Duped by the Dining Hall


Written By: Karen O’Brien

In 2016, Goucher’s on-campus dining options were named the Twentieth Best by The Princeton Review. This is a fact that the college loves to cite, talking about it on tours, websites, and pamphlets alike. When taking my own tour of the campus back in 2019, my tour guide mentioned this accolade more than once as we walked through the multiple levels of Mary Fisher. However, does Goucher’s food service continue to measure up to the standards that got it nominated by The Princeton Review, or is it living on a past reputation? 

Walking into the dining hall for the first time, whether that be on a tour or on the first day of school, the facility looks impressive. Even once you sit down to eat, it’s difficult not to admit that the food could be worse. However, after you come back day after day, and are presented with many of the same options as you were the day before, the sparkle of the white-tiled counters is easily dimmed. Though on their website Goucher highlights their plethora of dining options, this appears to be more about marketing to prospective students, and less about providing quality choices for the students who are already enrolled. 

While options are already a problem for students with no dietary restrictions, students who do have restrictions have an even more difficult time finding things to eat. While Goucher claims to have sufficient choices for students who are vegetarian, vegan, kosher, etc., the reality once again does not live up to the expectations. The kosher station has been inconsistently open. A student may be able to have a kosher meal for lunch, but then find the station to be closed for dinner. Additionally, students have had trouble finding out if foods even fit their dietary needs at all.

Freshman Briana Gales ‘25 recalls how, on the very first day, she ate at the dining hall and became extremely sick after eating a vegan burger that she didn’t expect to have gluten in it. Another freshman, Sophia Travis ‘25 has had many similar experiences due to an allergy to eggs. She calls for all dishes to be labeled so as to easily avoid these situations. 

“Bon Appétit… needs to make a greater effort for students with food allergies and sensitivities by labeling the dishes both in-person and online with icons for the top eight allergens.” 

Travis, as well as many other students, believe that if allergens were to be consistently and properly labeled, many students would be saved from nights of illness due to eating in the school’s dining hall. 

Other schools in the area have already implemented similar policies. Notre Dame of Maryland, another small, liberal arts school located in the Baltimore area, labels all of their dishes with the eight major allergens. They also provide students with an emailed weekly menu that details these allergens.

My question to our school and food providers is this: will you continue to live off of the glory awarded to you five years ago, or will you make efforts to change the problems every student faces and try for a number one spot on that list?

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