Perhaps the biggest effect of these new dining measures is the lack of community that has resulted in the student body.
Furman's dining doesn't look like it used to, and seniors are voicing their opinions.
As Furman students are now a month into the semester, seniors and freshmen on campus have served as test subjects for the Paladin Promise, new infrastructure, and a completely remodeled Furman experience in light of COVID-19. While some of these adaptations are accepted, others face criticism. The current food plans and meal system at Furman is one of the more scrutinized measures the university has taken.
On campus, indoor seating has been decreased and socially-distanced in all dining areas. Additionally, the tent in Milford Mall provides another safe eating option for students, helping to minimize the infamous common hour lunch crowd. Instead of Furman IDs, students use the GET app as a non-contact way to “swipe” for a meal. Though these safety protocols are necessary, students have expressed mixed views on both the benefits and drawbacks of the new policies. The most opinionated feedback has been from seniors – perhaps because, in contrast to the freshmen, they have a frame of reference for what the dining options were pre-pandemic.
Senior Claire Griffith expressed that although the new dining measures “keeps people separated, and does a good job of regulating social distancing,” the systems are proving to be “inefficient.” Griffith recounted that, along with the increased waiting time despite the decreased amount of students in line for food, the GET app often doesn’t work properly. This leaves students using their Furman IDs to pay for their meals after all.
Senior Abigail Dickie also voiced concern over the inefficiency and lack of food options in the Dining Hall, saying that her eating habits have changed because “it’s not as easy and there are not as many options that I enjoy.” Dickie opted for the lowest meal plan option this semester, given that Furman requires all students to register for one, yet still feels frustrated that she won’t be getting her money’s worth. Dickie also identified the increased use of plastic as another drawback to the safety measures. “They saran wrap everything,” she said, “all the fruit, sandwiches, then they put the food in a plastic container and saran wrap that, too.”
The dining experience this semester has been positive for some. According to senior Zack Jones who is a vegetarian, the quality of vegan and vegetarian options on campus has improved this semester, allowing him to make more use of the dining options. Jones said, “I wouldn't say I’ve gotten takeout more this semester than in the past semesters, my habits are about the same. When I want something different, I rely mostly on the Pden and the Milford Mall tent.” Jones also shared how he uses the weekends to cook in his apartment with his roommates.
Perhaps the biggest effect of these new dining measures is the lack of community that has resulted in the student body. Dickie communicated that she used to view the Dining Hall as a “social hub” where she would catch up with fellow students. Griffith added that she feels she doesn’t have as much of a social life anymore, and now avoids the Dining Hall in favor of the Pden because it “feels more normal.” While it's certain that the measures taken by Furman are necessary for everyone’s safety, it's undeniable that the new dining norms require some adjustment a from students.