/Hunger games: starved & stressed

Hunger games: starved & stressed

On Dec. 8, UM students’ plans for lunch were complicated by those participating in the Shelby County Middle School Choir Competition. (Katie Compton/The Alabamian)

I always look fondly upon finals week. Though university traditions like Founders’ Day and College Night unify the school in more prominent ways, finals week has always felt like the grand equalizer to me.

To me, the greatest example of this unity can be found in the library. Students from all majors, classifications and College Night sides fill each nook and cranny of the building with papers, laptops and caffeine in all its forms. There is a collective synergy in the building as each student works on a different project under the shared goal of survival.

However, last semester, a similar bastion of student comfort was sacrificed: the caf.

On Tuesday, Dec. 8, students venturing to the caf around noon were greeted by an unexpected and unwelcome site: a massive herd of preteen children.

The kids were there to participate in the Shelby County Middle School Choir competition. Surely they were nervous and excited to temporarily be “college kids,” and share a meal with us.

Their numbers prevented the “share” part from happening. The choir kids were stuffed in a messy line that surged from the caf kitchen all the way to the pizza station.

For UM students, it was a depressing and maddening sight. We were there to fill our bellies and absorb the energy we needed to take on our tests. We were there to temporarily visit with our equally stressed friends and tentatively talk about what grand plans awaited us once the week was over. We were there for comfort.

We were not there to stand in line for 20 minutes, fight for a seat and scarf down what food we managed to find 5 minutes before our exam.

To be fair, any day you remove the main source of food for any number of college kids will result in an outcry of absolute betrayal and tense frustration.

Yik Yak, otherwise an unruly online garbage bin for college thoughts, seemed unified that afternoon in a collective protest against whichever powers that be conferred this fate upon the student body.

“Why?” it collectively asked. “Why would any university cast a curse of children on us in the middle of finals week?”

To be fair, the kids can’t be blamed. Even they were inconvenienced by their sheer mass crowded into the food lines. The caf can’t either, as Chef Jason Quarles sent an email warning of the oncoming masses a few hours beforehand.

But it was preventable. There could have been efforts made to feed the children on a different part of the campus. Or, more easily, if the choir concert had to be in Palmer, the University should’ve asked that it be done on the Friday of finals week. Or even the week before.

A month later, I speak now from a relative place of calm. I would like to ask the University to please consider scheduling massive visitor days during a time when the majority of the student body isn’t in a fit of stress and frustration.

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