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Uncommon Commons

The Commons has been a social hub for Beloit students to gather, gossip, build friendships, and, most importantly, eat. Indeed, Commons maintains this status after its summer renovation. 

She sports a fresh coat of paint, new subheadings to categorize food types, and even some new menu items. Upon entering commons for the first time this semester, I first noticed how jarringly different, and yet familiar, it appeared—food stations looked different, wall colors diverged from my memory, and panini presses were not the center of everyone’s focus. Though these differences were prominent, it was undoubtedly Commons; the layout was the same, chairs and carpets were unchanged, and the food continues to be of the same quality. 

Astute readers will know that I have defended Commons’ culinary productions in the past, and that opinion still stands. Though the food is not outstanding, it is wholly unfair to claim that it is bad. Indeed, when peers ask how the menu is at any given day, they are met with a standard response of “it’s Commons” by fellow diners, implying that culinary quality is unchanged over the course of the day, week, semester, etc. That being said, the food can still be described with the aforementioned response when pitted against a pre-renovation predecessor. It does, after all, have a name that fits such a status. 

To critique some of the modifications, the subheadings above food stations are not entirely truthful. For instance, just beneath large “Grate & Griddle” lettering is often a granola section and a selection of cold, premade items—yogurt or salad, for example. The “Near & Far” section is, in my experience, almost entirely near. Only once have I encountered a menu item that could be perceived as ethnically diverse in reference to American culture and cuisine—this being falafel that was slightly worse in flavor and texture to that found in the Powerhouse last term. 

Furthermore, a major gripe with the ‘new’ Commons is the paucity of takeout options. So many students have expressed dissatisfaction with this change. Even those who bring their own reusable containers are dismissed. This is deeply upsetting to me. There are a number of students who have a lot on their plate (pun intended), lacking the time to eat in Commons. Additionally, there certainly continues to be a COVID concern for indoor dining. Immunocompromised students may wish to dine outdoors or in private for their own safety. Lastly, those who get overstimulated easily may find it difficult to dine in Commons. As someone who encounters overstimulation with sound and lights, Commons is not always the most comfortable dining location. Indeed, the crowd has caused some students to “lower [their] food plan because of how many people are in there these days” (Sydney Felhofer ‘24). In short, Commons needs to reinstate take out options in order to best provide for the Beloit student body. Although I may not know what intricacies went into the decision to remove take out at Commons, I feel that this is a major failure of our college. 

The Commons may have its issues, but its name does say it all. It is a common meeting place to dine and enjoy the company of others. The food does what it’s intended—the addition of an ice cream freezer helps here, too—and, for the most part, my complaints are knit-picky at best and ultimately unimportant at worst, with the palpable exception of take out. 

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