The Dining Dilemma: What’s Up with Hewitt?

by Paige Robbins

The bane of your existence.

Like most Barnard first years, I can be found at Hewitt at least two times a day. This is mostly because Hewitt is conveniently located next to the Quad, but I will admit that it is partially because I’m still slightly terrified by Columbia’s campus and John Jay. In other words, Hewitt feels safe, like a friend. That feeling of trust and safety, I’m starting to find out, is sometimes misplaced.

At the beginning of the semester Hewitt served up fantastic new dishes and was well stocked in everything from fresh fruit to Nutella, but as we’ve inched closer to the second half of the semester, things have gone downhill. The Deli is often out of meat or cheese altogether; desserts and entrées are rarely replenished, and we run out of good bananas after just a few hours! It’s becoming clear that the high bar of menu quality that was set when I first got here was unrealistic and short-lived.

When I realized that the quality was a bit shaky and unusual, I began to speak with upper class(wo)men about the situation. Several sophomores and juniors recounted that this was how Hewitt usually functioned, and that the quality was “spotty” but usually followed some kind of downward curve from the start of the semester to the end. This got me thinking about other campus dining halls and I spoke with some friends at other schools. Surprisingly they reported the same thing. It became clear that this is what’s experienced at most dining halls across the country and is actually a known phenomenon. After some careful scientific calculations involving a vast amount of speculation and estimation, I created a graph of the food quality for the first semester at most dining halls, including Hewitt.

It’s all downhill from here.

Starting in August (with NSOP) the food quality is at its highest. This is because (1) the kitchen is probably completely stocked with food to work with, and (2) it is important to impress the new kids with inspiring food. As the semester starts up the quality sinks consistently until we arrive at Family Weekend where it reaches a quick peak (presumably to impress the people paying for the food plan), and then falls dramatically, decreasing until the end of the semester in December.

One aspect that does not play well into my model though is Late Night. It seems that the quality of the Late Night menu is inversely correlated to the quality of the lunch and dinner menus for that day. This makes me wonder how they plan meals and why they seem to save all of the awesome Chinese dumplings or BLT salads for Late Night and not spread the love between all of the meals.

If we disregard Late Night and look at the graph, it is clear that we are in for a downhill Hewitt experience for the rest of the semester, but stay positive and keep using those swipes. Hewitt still has the best, most convenient food on campus and it should be treated that way. Just don’t get your hopes up too high, it’s still dining hall food.

Paige Robbins is a first-year at Barnard and a staff writer for The Nine Ways of Knowing.

Image courtesy of Her Campus. Graph courtesy of Paige Robbins.

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4 thoughts on “The Dining Dilemma: What’s Up with Hewitt?

  1. Hewitt is so bad! it is the single most demoralizing thing about being a b-nard first year. hang in there guys, it gets better if you move off the quad ❤

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