Christina White’s overview of campus food options (Too bad you can’t eat sandstone, O-Week edition) leads this aged postgraduate to reminisce that, however bad things are today, they were far, far worse in my undergraduate years of 1999-2002.
Back then almost every food outlet on campus was Union run. The Union boards, secure in their annual compulsory student unionism income ($408 a year per student in 1998, automatically directed to the Union no matter what the University wanted) firmly believed that private enterprise was evil.
Unfortunately they also seemed to think that freshness was the work of Satan and nutrition a capitalist plot. Considerable effort was expended on expunging all traces of imperialist tastiness whilst the serving staff were given the finest Soviet anti-customer-service training available.
Five of the six food outlets on campus (Wentworth cafeteria, old Manning cafeteria, Holme ‘Buttery’, Bosch and Engineering kiosks) were owned and run by the Union and they all served the same food. Literally.
Sausages that had aged three hours in a bain-marie, soggy chips and horrific catering trays of pasta/cheese melts (also aged under lights) were the mainstays. A weekly ‘special’ was offered for students who were on a budget. It was usually some unidentifiable meat in a bright yellow curry sauce squeezed from a big plastic catering bottle and then spooned onto over-cooked white rice. Soylent would have been an improvement.
The sole alternative was Ralph’s although, during a short period of Labor right control, a Pizza Hut opened in Wentworth. This led to endless attacks on the Union for allowing capitalistic oppression in the student safe space of Wentworth and, once control returned to the left, the lease expired and so did the Pizza Hut.
VSU wreaked havoc on many aspects of student life but trust me, campus food was not one of them.