USF needs to accommodate late-night food cravings

Dining Services at USF have given a new meaning to the term “starving college student.” The difference is not so much that students can’t afford food, but that the stores where they could make their purchases are not open. The university has been on a mission to change its image of being a commuter college to a college community, yet there is not a single place for non-resident students to find food after the sun goes down unless they head over to the residence halls.

At night the feral cats aren’t the only ones endlessly searching for food on campus. Hungry students can be spotted scavenging through the Marshall Center in search of edibles. The problem is quite simple: Classes start at 8 a.m. and the last ones get out at 10 p.m., meaning that for at least 14 hours a day, there will be students on campus. The Tampa Room in the Phyllis P. Marshall Center is open for eight hours (10 a.m.-6 p.m.) a day, thus leaving six hours that students will not be able to find a real meal at the student union. Unless, of course, you count FreshÃns, which remains open till 10, but mostly serves ice cream and smoothies; not your ideal place for a decent meal. The Subway at Cooper Hall and Einstein Bros. Bagels in the Marshall Center fix part of the problem by being open until 8 and 7 p.m., respectively. Even the widely unknown restaurant, Top of the Palms, located on the forth floor of the Marshall Center — which is billed as “a sophisticated dining experience” — closes at 2 p.m., so eating dinner there is not even an option. The Marshall Center stays open until 1 a.m., so why are do its eateries close so early?

The university wants to portray the campus as a place that students not only come for classes but also as a community. But how can this be done without a decent restaurant or lounging area for students in which to congregate and form these communities?

When it comes to late dining, the university falters on its goal to cater to its students. Or maybe, the new-look Dining Services on campus truly is unaware of student needs.