Let’s make the Great Hall great again! Yes, lest we forget, there was a golden age for this medieval gem; let’s free it from the bonds of commercial money-grubbing malice. As we recover from our Thanksgiving fellowship over plates of freely given food I ask you to reconsider the structure in place governing the Great Hall’s use imposing swipe for entry or a laborious signature and peering stink-eye. How do I think we should reclaim our Great Hall?
Wait in a fifty-person line to scan, and then a fifty-person line to grab food, and hold on extra tight to your plates as you conduct a rain dance with the hope that there are actually plastic cups stocked. Nobody goes to the Great Hall for food, a quick investigation of Covenant’s website reveals that Covenant’s administration does not want anyone to know we have a meal service (click around, the only acknowledgement is a single sentence in the campus map’s description of the Great Hall).
Our community is compromised by complaints of poor food but our community’s consequential low expectations keeps the food poor. Our Great Hall is additionally fragmented when we lose the valuable insight and wisdom of upperclassmen to off-campus living and eating. “Well it’s cafeteria food” is a conclusion that ensures no one wins.
What if we opened the doors? Made the Great Hall great by making it the largest gathering place on campus opened 24/7? What if we brought the line over where the portrait of Mrs. Lyons now sits and sold meals by the tray or item rather than the ambiguous “buffet” style. The conspicuous swipe guardian becomes a cashier. The cooks cooking based on what gets consumed because people actually buy it, not just because it is sitting there. Item-by-Item purchase has the potential to improve the dining experience by “Survival of the Fittest.”
Carter, with the new renovation, is considered a historical building. Why as the owners of such an expensive building would we let our dining service monopolize what is arguably our most valuable room in such an iconic and expensive building? If we were to make this the campus conversational hub, Carter (as a dormitory hall) goes from having the least amount of study and community gathering space to the most. Who needs a multi-million dollar student center when you introduce 10,000 square feet of flex eating/studying space? With this modification, Carter would almost be cooler than Founders from a dormitory living perspective!
Covenant does not advertise the meal plan, but we heavily emphasize Covenant’s community. Yes, it’s the community that at the very worst blows off steam in the Great Hall but ideally is carrying their freshly malleable thoughts from class to their conversations over meals. Why would we charge anyone to enter a space when they are as much a resource as the minds from which they glean? We should let anyone willing to join our Christian fellowship, join, student or not, without having to forfeit personal details or student banner numbers. Community is had over food, not vice versa.
We do not really advertise the conversation and camaraderie through other means than firsthand during preview weekend when the food magically gets better. What if we advertised our dining services and our indoor common space, the Great Hall? In this way the Chartwells and Covenant might be mutually benefitted by snapping a few photos here or there, of great conversation, a historic dining hall, delicious food, free for anyone to join and contribute regardless of their desire to buy food.
It sounds crazy, but the days of domineering dining services bossing us around is coming to a close. If we forfeited breakfast, and had a Chipotle within a catering zone, it would be more financially viable to pay for Chipotle Catering for all of campus twice a day, everyday than paying for Chartwells revenue currently. Eventually the price differential will restore power to our fine Institution and we will see that the Great Hall should indeed be made public and open to all around the clock, food is to be bought separate from community, and that the school should seek these community benefits for everyone as they are as much consumers as contributors to Covenant’s intellectual engine. Let’s make the Great Hall great again! Free it!