Adventures in Whining and Dining: Stanford Student Objects to Grilled Cauliflower

Just for fun today, I decided to poke around in the websites of various university newspapers to see what new horror is afflicting today’s college student. It did not take long. The answer is: grilled cauliflower.

At least, that is what a certain student at Stanford University says, claiming he suffers from what does not actually appear to be a recognized medical condition, disordered eating.

Oh, wait. I should put the same verbiage at the top of this article that The Stanford Daily does, “Content warning: This column contains references to disordered eating.” But then again, my readers are a more robust crew than those of The Stanford Daily.

This student, an adult at one of the most prestigious universities in the entire world, writes of the hardship he endures from a condition which he himself says, “The specific type of disordered eating I experience has not been diagnosed, but it can be described as a compulsion to eat less than needed when I’m either in social settings or when I have trouble estimating the amount of food I’m consuming.”

Soooooo, here we have an adult male at an exclusive, expensive institution of higher education who has trouble determining how much chocolate pudding he has had.

Poor fellow. He relates this ordeal:

I hadn’t eaten enough that morning, as my mind convinced me to take a very small portion of the “healthiest” vegetarian food I could find in the dining hall. I was too stressed to even attempt a dining hall lunch, and was now stuck waiting until dinner.

After thinking about my hunger for most of the section, I made my way to the dining hall after class, but I could bring myself to eat only a plate of grilled cauliflower.

And what does this highly afflicted young man want the university administration to do in order to help him with his lack of decision-making ability and innumeracy?

Well, for starters this future leader of the ruling class wants the university to do this:

Provide pre-portioned options in dining halls, alongside their buffet-style counterparts, for students who experience stress associated with buffet-style dining. Stanford has been pre-portioning food throughout the pandemic, and it can continue that practice even when the buffet style returns. Like ordering food at a restaurant, receiving a predefined serving of something is much less stressful for me than portioning it myself, especially when surrounded by peers.

Yes, folks. Having to serve oneself a spoonful of potatoes is too nerve-wracking for this picky eater at Stanford. Being treated like adults is just not something Stanford students should have to put up with. Whatever was food services at Stanford thinking?

This student seems to think that everyone is watching him at all times:

I was comfortable taking only a few things from dining halls: mostly the bagels, English muffins and veggie burger patties, because they were pre-portioned. Even then, I felt self-conscious about walking in and stuffing things into my backpack. Pandemic dining gave me increased options without any of the stress I experienced previously.

I had not realized that Stanford students need to have everything wrapped in plastic and boxed up just so. I wonder if this is true at Harvard and Princeton.

Mind you, this student did not actually try to work through his problems. He suffered in silence with his grilled cauliflower:

Despite my struggles, I never sought help with my disordered eating from Stanford. But it’s not fair to place the blame squarely on my shoulders. Simple changes to campus dining could help students without relying on their time and energy when they are not ready to seek help.

Simple changes—like revamping the entire dining hall system in the middle of a pandemic:

Giving all students on a meal plan unlimited access to open dining halls…

I don’t suppose that would incur any labor costs or anything.

And this to suit those students who do not actually seem to be saying that there is a problem:

The University can’t rely on students to explicitly ask for help — so system-level changes like the ones I’ve described are so important.

So get with it, Stanford. You are not pampering your students enough and are not reading their minds. No modern, top-drawer university expects students to make major decisions like how much meatloaf to put on their plates.

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