Good Old Sam’s

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Published November 19, 2021
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The Montclarion
The exterior of Food Hall, Sam's Place, one of the dining halls on campus. John LaRosa | The Montclarion

Whenever a Red Hawk student hears about the illustrious Sam’s Place, what kind of thoughts do you think flood their mind? Could it be the stacks of adequately washed dishes placed before students to eat off of? Another meal thrown away after a bug was found in it?

Or, as of recently, the chance to take a bite out of their notorious raw chicken?

I mean, what else could you possibly expect from Sam’s Place? High-quality, servable food that won’t be posted on Instagram for its blatant health violations?

All jokes aside, Sam’s Place has been the butt of many on-campus jokes for its subpar dining services and food options. The student town hall open forum that took place on Nov. 16, 2021 not only allowed students to expose the mistakes in the system in place but also gave leaders the chance to explain their future actions.

Among them was James Standridge, the senior executive campus chef, who seemed very remorseful about the events that have transpired at Sam’s Place. Those mistakes, which include inedible food, dirty utensils and bug-ridden meals all received the same response: communication.

“If you see something that is wrong, feel free to speak with a manager or email us.”

According to Residential Dining, it is the student’s responsibility to ensure their food is up to their standards.

Now, I have no problem with that statement. As students, we should be more alert and active to speak up for ourselves and advocate for a safe eating experience.

However, what I found most upsetting was the somewhat lacking mention of the actions taken by the administration.

With the exception of Strandridge, I felt little remorse from the panel of administrators before me. Even when shining polite smiles and giving sweet apologies, I could feel the same cycle continuing again. I knew there was a 50% chance I would find a bug in my next meal.

When students came up one-by-one to relay nauseating, disturbing tales of Sam’s “meals” and “services” that were provided to them, not even a muscle twitched on the faces of most of the administrators. It was as if they were listening to the same tale again, which in their defense must have been the case given the extensive reputation Sam’s has given itself.

It was a face shared by their employees as well, who appeared to be content with serving students food that wouldn’t be acceptable in most restaurants.

How many times have we heard about the supposed “new changes” and “policies” that would be put in place to make the dining experience better? When have we as students ever received anything better from Sam’s Place?

How many times will we have to listen to excuses and sweet nothings from a system that has done nothing to better the reputation of this campus eatery?

I do believe we need to take a stand for our right as students for better food. But I think that starts with the administrators’ acknowledgment of a faulty system that isn’t fitting the needs of the student body.

The leaders went on and on about “training” and “protocol” and “how meaningful the students are.” Their “protocol” is what made my sister find a white spider in a bowl of beans. And their “policies” are what can continue to produce raw chicken, which will inevitably appear on Instagram.

This isn’t the first time the dining service has been held accountable for its flaws. But we could be the last to deal with Sam’s Place as it stands now if we start using our mouths for more than eating: we must keep speaking out.

With that, I’m going to sign off and go eat another mediocre dinner at Sam’s Place.

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