Despite other efforts to strengthen the bond, a disconnect between Pepperdine and its students exists, especially in terms of the students’ lifestyles and the services provided on campus. Often enough, students find themselves unhappy with the conditions of student life that are provided for them, including the dining possibilities available on the Seaver campus.
The longer students stay at Pepperdine, the more they realize the school offers very few of the things they actually need outside of academics. The administration makes efforts to encourage students to stay on-campus, including requiring new students to live on campus and purchase meal plans for four semesters and transfer students to stay for at least one semester, but they fail to provide services many students move off-campus to get.
Triple rooms were a recent effort to make on-campus living more affordable and therefore more appealing to the students. The initiative is understandable and even admirable. The school understands that it would be easier to live five minutes away from classes on a protected campus. The Campus Life Project includes plans to reduce the campus traffic of commuters by enriching life on-campus. Among the improvements are creating more much-needed parking spots and more living spaces, but there are no plans to increase the dining options.
Pepperdine fails to offer the dining options for which many students leave campus. Those students who have late-night obligations, such as classes that end at 10 p.m., find themselves having to settle for the HAWC far too often.
According to the Dining Services website, Pepperdine technically offers seven undergraduate dining locations: the Waves Cafe, the HAWC Cafe and Store, Nature’s Edge, La Brea Bakery, Jamba Juice, Cafe Fresca (CCB) and the Coffee Cart. Of these, the HAWC is the only one that stays open past 8:30 p.m. on weekdays and 8 p.m. on weekends.
The University of Southern California offers 24 restaurants on campus or within short walking distance, including Panda Express, California Pizza Kitchen and Carl’s Jr. The University of California at Berkeley offers 14 restaurants on campus at which students can use their meal points.
Now, it may be understandable that these schools have more to offer in dining, considering that they have more students. However, it would be nice if we could use our meal points at off-campus locations just as these students can.
Loyola Marymount University, which only has about 100 more students than we do, offers their students nine dining options with a 10th opening soon. The main commonality between Pepperdine and LMU is that it has a contract with Sodexo, Inc.
Loyola Marymount, along with other schools, does not only offer more locations, but also a greater variety of choices. The options provided are catered to the students’ lives. The average college student goes to sleep around 2 a.m. and eats most of their meals toward the end of their day.
Herein lies the problem. This contract with Sodexo, Inc., which was renewed in 2009 and lasts for 10 years, does not allow for the use of meal points at locations off-campus. As undergraduates, we can utilize the graduate campus facilities located on campus, but that’s the extent of our on-campus diet.
Imagine a world where Pepperdine students could travel the short distance down to main campus to enjoy a Chipotle burrito or Panda Express Panda Bowl at the end of a long but productive day.
There would be a reason to stay on campus. There would be a reason to emerge out from the shadows of Towers on the weekends. There might even be a reason to sit down and talk to someone you didn’t know before.
This may seem to be a trivial issue on the surface. Students complaining about cafeteria food is certainly not a new idea. We’ve been doing it since grade school, but it is time to understand this is much more than the whining of a fourth grader complaining about the tasteless slop in the lunch line.
As college students, as adults, we ask for more dining options to accommodate our on-campus lifestyles — lifestyles that are necessitated by our having to stay on-campus for four semesters and eat from on-campus facilities. This is just one of the improvements that we feel would make life on campus more attractive, and perhaps might encourage junior and senior students to remain on campus as well.