Take a moment and appreciate the DH food

My+arms+genuinely+do+feel+like+noodles+when+I+go+to+open+the+dining+hall+door.+I+do+think+the+pizza+looks+dry+sometimes.+But+after+great+thought+and+a+lecture+from+my+mom%2C+where+she+reminded+me+of+the+poverty-stricken+streets+of+her+hometown+in+India%2C+I+realized+my+privilege.+The+realities+I+don%E2%80%99t+see+in+front+of+me+every+day%E2%80%94like+poor+families+living+under+tarps%2C+eating+whatever+they+can+find%E2%80%94are+ignored+when+I+whine+about+there+being+no+croissants+in+the+dining+hall.+

Media: Illustration by Joshua Sun

My arms genuinely do feel like noodles when I go to open the dining hall door. I do think the pizza looks dry sometimes. But after great thought and a lecture from my mom, where she reminded me of the poverty-stricken streets of her hometown in India, I realized my privilege. The realities I don’t see in front of me every day—like poor families living under tarps, eating whatever they can find—are ignored when I whine about there being no croissants in the dining hall.

By Mariyam Quaisar

Why are the doors to the dining hall so heavy? My noodle arms absolutely cannot handle so much weight. Why does it always smell so funky in the dining hall? Where is the normal food? Talking through a mask is so difficult; they can never understand what I’m saying. Why is there even a soup station? I mean, how many people have actually gotten soup here? Ugh, of course there’s no French dressing for my salad. I wonder if the sandwiches are actually listed correctly today. Ew, never mind, they look inedible. There’s never any milk for my morning coffee. Where are the bananas? Oh my god, I heard that tofu gave someone food poisoning. Why is the pizza so dry? Yeah, I can’t handle the dining hall today, I’m going to Tatte. 

I’ve heard every single one of these phrases in the dining hall. Granted, it does smell “funky” sometimes, and the sandwiches are occasionally listed incorrectly. But that smell is from non-American cuisine, and animals were killed for those sandwiches before they landed in our dining hall. 

I will admit that I have also said some of the things listed above. My arms genuinely do feel like noodles when I go to open the dining hall door. I do think the pizza looks dry sometimes. But after great thought and a lecture from my mom, where she reminded me of the poverty-stricken streets of her hometown in India, I realized my privilege. The realities I don’t see in front of me every day—like poor families living under tarps, eating whatever they can find—are ignored when I whine about there being no croissants in the dining hall. 

With Emerson’s $65,000 a year tuition and housing costs and its majority-Caucasian student population, Emerson is mostly home to students from the same demographic: advantaged and white. These students, like me, take food for granted, when in reality it is a privilege. Emerson’s dining hall provides a variety of food, including global cuisine, like yakisoba noodles, Thai red curry tofu, enchiladas, and chicken curry. But instead of appreciating the options, students often diss them. 

Approximately 821 million people, or 11 percent of the global population, are starving around the world, according to the United Nations in 2018. But for us students, all we have to do is tap in to gain access to meals, while so many people in other places don’t have those resources. Understanding privilege is a basic quality everyone must have. Having access to a diverse selection of food is a blessing. Why do we not see it that way?

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Hundreds of years ago, people were growing and hunting for the food they ate. There wasn’t access to a Trader Joe’s or the ability to diet. Granted, not all of the Emerson population matches the privileged demographic. But quite a few students can afford cold brews every morning and attend B/SPOKE spin classes for a quick workout. Living such a lifestyle can blind people to the reality of poverty around the world, allowing them to whine and complain about a lack of French dressing at the expensive college’s dining hall. 

Students, take a second to look at your surroundings. Educate yourself about those who have the bare minimum. Ignorance is not bliss; ignorance is foolish. Be grateful for what you have and take advantage of what you’re given. 

Next time you enter the dining hall, appreciate the luxury of food that surrounds you.

Mariyam Quaisar is a journalism major from the class of 2024. If you would like to respond to this thought piece in the form of a letter to the editor, email [email protected]rkeleyBeacon.com. Letters may be edited for style and clarity.