PCP: Franklin’s the best place to eat on campus
Quite frankly, Worcester Dining Commons sucks. Its only redeeming qualities are the Pita Pit and the store, which hardly qualify for our purpose since they’re retail operations and not dining operations.
The best dining hall on campus, better even than the legendary Berkshire, is Franklin. Yes, Franklin.
It all starts with the name. The name Franklin has wonderfully positive associations which resonate throughout American history and culture, as well as being a down to earth and populist name. The ‘shires are aristocratic, with all the connotations of elitism and exclusivity. I bet they’re great for people named Cabot Lodge, who have Roman numerals after the name of someone who made a lot of money or held some once-influential government job, but I doubt we’ll find many of that class here. UMass is all about the hoi polloi. Worcester, by contrast, is associated with crime and steak sauce. And the steak sauce is for the English Worcester.
The positive connotations of Franklin go back far in American history. Benjamin Franklin, anyone? Inventor, statesman, minister to France, lover, captured for all time by Howard Da Silva in 1776 and immortalized as the first newspaper publisher in “Ben and Me”. Or perhaps Franklin Delano Roosevelt? President, leader through World War II, architect of the New Deal and its political coalition that created the modern Democratic Party. Best of all, he did some of his best work while courageously battling a paralytic illness that made his life one of constant pain. The man is so universally beloved that he generally gets a free pass on the Japanese-American internment and denying asylum to Jewish refugees from Europe.
But where Franklin (the DC) really takes the cake is its layout. For my freshmen and sophomore years I lived in Sylvan, but spent a lot of time around Herter and the Newman Center. Every Friday night, before the Improv With Attitude show at 8 p.m. in Herter 231, I ate at Franklin. Every morning and most weekday evenings I tended to eat at Worcester, so I got in a very good position to compare the two.
The layout of Franklin is superior because of color and space. Franklin has a lot of big windows and its tables are arranged carefully, making the dining area seem bigger than it is. In addition to the use of space, Franklin is rarely crowded. Worcester is usually packed from 5 p.m to around 7:30 p.m.
When I say packed, I mean hungry people starting to think that the person in front of them might taste good with the right amount of Tabasco sauce packed. If I was lucky enough to get food, I’d spend 10 minutes wandering the whole area until I found an empty seat. The situation was exacerbated by the fact that people had the tendency to leave their stuff at the table they intended to sit at and then spend the 25 minutes in line it took to get food.
Franklin also beats Worcester by miles in terms of community. I know that word gets thrown around with as little discretion as if it were “fascist” or “socialist,” but I mean it. Franklin has a unique community. It is the closest dining hall to Central and so it attracts that entire crowd.
I don’t know why, but Central attracts a good deal of the most unique and wonderfully distinctive students on campus – and they usually eat at Franklin. I could people watch for hours, admiring the superb ways each person expressed themselves through their clothing and hair styles. Face it, Worcesterites, if it weren’t for Sylvan, the only people there would be the bland science and engineering majors.
The superior location of Franklin to the other dining halls may seem entirely subjective after all convenience counts for a lot and Southwesties might think Berkshire and Hampshire have the best locations because they’re close. But, in fact, this is not the case. Franklin has the best location because it is closest to University Health Services. If someone gets sick from dining hall food, the doctors and a stomach pump are right there. In Worcester they’d have to drag themselves down that road. In Southwest, they’d need an ambulance.
Believe it or not, Franklin’s food is superior to Worcester’s in every way, too. Worcester always gave me diarrhea. Franklin made me constipated. Worcester was the poison and Franklin was the hallucinogen. In Franklin the coffee was always hotter, the vegetarian options were always tastier and the fake eggs were always faker.
Franklin rules; Worcester drools!
Matthew M. Robare is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.