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Dear UW: Where is our money going?

How HFS is making students go hungry

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Food

Twenty percent of four year college students have very low food security.

Every weekend I get out of my dorm, away from my studies, and go on an adventure. I am the type of person who can get pretty restless from the monotony of the week; I either get on the ferry to Bainbridge Island or just hop on a bus to Ballard. Inevitably, I always make the same joke: “I will always be eating better on the weekends than during the week.”

I have the privilege of being able to travel around and not have to worry about food security when I am hungry — but many students don’t have this privilege. One of several great opportunities that the modern university experience offers is being able to meet students from various economic backgrounds. 

For some students, the dining hall might be their only reliable source of food for the day, and with all the hurdles they experience, UW is really making it hard for them to get the most basic of human needs. 

“It can be 15 to upwards of 50 minutes depending on the time of day, and honestly, the long wait time for me and my friends always makes the Ave seem more attractive for us,” freshman Mason Pirner said. “We tried using Dub Grub, but after 9 a.m., if you want to order anything it just keeps crashing. For [UW] having such a large freshman class, it doesn’t seem like the infrastructure is there.”

In my own personal experience, the conditions I have seen in the dining hall are deplorable. With long wait times, hours cut off in the middle of the day, and line cutoffs before closing, even I was going hungry until I could make the splurge and buy a fridge and groceries. 

“Honestly, with a lot of students going into substantial debt to attend this university, I think the basic needs like food should be met,” sophomore Hatcher Childress said. “Coming from a Washington community college I had heard stories about HFS’s shortcomings, and even thinking about my own high school lunch line, I had seen things get pretty backed up, but I thought the UW would be able to have those issues figured out before we all got here. I mean I have to ask, where [is] all of our money’s going?”

With more and more problems arising each day, we must be able to stick all of our heads together and figure out solutions, unless we want to continue suffering over financial mishandling. 

The current HFS workers seem to be responsible for dealing with the pressure while not reaping any of the rewards — Seattle minimum wage is not able to sustain any of these employees' abilities to live on their own. Why can’t we offer the bare minimum to those who are bearing the brunt of a situation that should have been handled within the long pause of inactivity on campus?

“Sixteen dollars an hour is not a wage for anyone, especially in Seattle,” Pirner said. “The one thing that unites us all is our interaction with HFS, whether it’s the person who you talk to while they make your food or the person who cleans your hall’s floor that you wish good morning to. These people are an integral part of the university system and need to be treated as such. This place is full of some of the brightest minds of our time, but administration and leadership can’t solve the simple problem of treating someone with decency and respect, [and] it really is a disgrace.” 

Reach writer Liam Blakey at opinion@dailyuw.com. Twitter: @LiamBlakey2

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