Education over Taste of UMass

By Eli Gottlieb

Why does it feel like this semester is so much shorter than all the others?  Why is this semester different from past semesters? I constantly feel shocked to hear that we’ve got less than three weeks left until final examinations begin, but in reality, this semester really is just shorter.

It only has 14 weeks in it from start to finish, shorter than last fall, next fall and last spring. Why? Well, whatever its reason, we know it will help UMass to save money in order to remain functioning, but I can’t say I like getting less education for the same amount of money. After all, couldn’t they save money some other way? Isn’t there something else we could have cut other than classroom time?

Yes, there is. For one thing, they could have cut Taste of UMass. Does anyone know why we actually hold this event every year? Why do we spend loads of money to shut down the Dining Commons for an entire afternoon, reroute all the buses to go to the Mullins Center, deck out the Mullins Center, license music for UMass Idol, hire entertainers, buy prizes for the stupid contests (they actually bothered to buy a pair of front-row Red Sox tickets), and then force students to trek down and eat a dinner composed of inferior-grade corporate “food product.”

Only the Pita Pit, Southwest Cafe, and Blue Wall will remain open for those of us who actually want real food. Yeah, administration, we totally enjoy having all the corporate suppliers for the DCs come and advertise their crap to us, actually costing us a meal-plan swipe each.

Of course, Taste of UMass only costs thousands and thousands of dollars every year we do it, and we could have used that money to help extend the school year longer, even if just for a day. My professors have actually said that they’ve cut course curricula short due to lack of time.

I think that it’s pretty easily worth not having Taste of UMass at all, considering that it’s a waste of time and a detriment to the real reason I came to UMass: knowledge and time to spend with my fellow students.

Perhaps we could even, I don’t know, lobby the state government to let us pour the money that is getting used on constructing new, fancy buildings we can’t even staff to do something as obvious as, I don’t know, pay the University staff and faculty.  We could even go to extreme lengths and perhaps cut down on other things like sports teams or the Student Government Association budget.

I know that to many these suggestions might seem offensive, but when the University cuts teaching, we’ve got a serious problem. Teaching and research are the raison d’etre of this University, and  personally I see no reason why we should sacrifice that in order to have what this year’s Taste of UMass flyer calls “The nation’s largest campus food service World Street Food (sic).”

Don’t ask me why they chose to put a random phrase in right after a tagline, but I could only hope that they actually have world street food at this year’s event. I sincerely doubt it, however, as the only thing I’ve ever seen of “street food” at UMass Dining has been the Ketumbar (a word for “coriander”) dish at Worcester DC. Its tagline as world street food is completely dishonest considering it’s a dish invented by UMass’ head chef for a recipe contest, but at least it’s tasty.

Oh well. I suppose I shouldn’t expect much else of the University administration considering their attitude this semester. Resident Student Organizations are suffering cutbacks to their budgets, forced relocations (“RSO cleansing”), and actual shutdowns at the whims of the administration and SGA, but we’ve got a shiny new Recreational Center for the recruiting photographers.

Dorm lounges will be quad rooms for the foreseeable future and sophomores are being encouraged to live off-campus, further straining the Amherst housing market and the town’s no-more-than-five-to-a-unit bylaw, but we continue to get guest chefs at our DCs and at Taste of UMass who receive darn good money for gracing us with their celebrity presence over a space of five hours.

On the upside, the assistant dean who allegedly allowed a rapist to go nearly unpunished is no longer assistant dean, after a month or so of public outcry.

So basically, our University will continue to look after its image before its well-being and its students.  Ah, well, at least we’ll still have Humans vs. Zombies to look forward to each semester.

Eli Gottlieb is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at [email protected]