Saxa Politica: GU owes students a free lunch

October 9, 2008

After Kathrin Verestoun (SFS `11) watched her norovirus-infected roommate vomit all over their room last week, it took her a while to muster the faith to trust Leo O’Donovan Dining Hall again. But on Sunday night, out of Flex dollars and short on cash, Verestoun decided to brave Leo’s once more.

“I had to wait 30 minutes to get food, and that was only from one station. If I wanted food from, say, the vegetarian station, I’d have to wait in a separate line,” she said, outraged. “I don’t have that kind of time to wait in line.”

Verestoun has not gone back to Leo’s since, and neither have her friends. As of yesterday, however, Leo’s began operating normally, opening both floors and serving its usual mediocre food at all stations, rendering her boycott relatively purposeless.

But a return to Leo’s-as-usual does not render Verestoun’s complaints, and those of many Georgetown students, superfluous. Center Grill in the Leavey Center served as a pathetic replacement for the already sub-par Leo’s while it was closed for inspection by the D.C. Department of Health on Wednesday and Thursday of last week; when Leo’s did re-open, during limited hours, students swiped their GoCards (after sanitizing their hands) for interminably long lines, less food, plastic cutlery and a fruitless search for a free table. Plus, Grab N’ Go is closed indefinitely, Verestoun’s biggest beef with the dining service.

“I rely on Grab N’ Go for half my meals,” Verestoun, who often works nights, said. She said that if Leo’s doesn’t reinstate Grab N’ Go, she wants the option of giving up her 14 meals per week plan.

While allowing students to drop their meal plans in the middle of the semester might be a bit much to ask of Aramark and the University – as Vice President of Student Affairs Todd Olson emphatically pointed out in a meeting with reporters on Monday, there is no conclusive evidence yet that links the origination of the Norovirus to Leo’s – the University does need to address the remarkably low quality of food service during the week that Georgetown and Leo’s were doing damage control in the aftermath of the norovirus’ outbreak.

Most students went off campus to eat at the end of last week and over the weekend; on Wedesday night, the wait for a sandwich from Wisey’s, where I work, was anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour, and during a shift at the end of the week, each cash register made about $1,000 to $1,500 more than it usually does. For students who are on a weekly meal plan, the Leo’s “meals” they had no choice but to avoid last week are money they will never get back. Even for students who did suck it up and cram Center Grill’s cold, soggy fries and overcooked corn in their mouths, they used meals that were worth half a swipe, at best

Chew Kate out at


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