Quad eatery feeds cadets and non-regs
Published: Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, March 19, 2013 01:03
More than 2,000 uniformed cadets file in at 7:10 in the morning. Their day started an hour ago, with physical training, roll call and a ceremony to honor the American flag. Trays in hand, they are hungry for breakfast.
Within 20 minutes, the cadets have sat down with full plates of food, and after another 20 minutes, everyone has finished and is ready for class.
For students not in the Corps, Duncan Dining Hall isn’t a popular place to grab lunch. For the Corps of Cadets, Duncan is part of daily routine.
Located at the back of the Quad, Duncan is the primary eating location for cadets who gather there for two mandatory meals every weekday.
Some cadets complain about the food in Duncan, but Shaun Bruner, sophomore history major and member of A-Company, said the complaints have less to do with the food an more with being a freshman in the Corps.
"If you hear a cadet say he doesn't like Duncan, it's probably because of the way he had to eat [freshman] year," Bruner said.
There are rules cadets must follow. Freshmen stand at attention with their trays until everyone shows up and must ask the highest-ranking cadet at the table if they are allowed to sit down. Freshmen also set their place settings in a particular way, as well as eat at attention, which means sitting up straight and not looking around. Finally, freshmen ask permission to get up and then clean the table after they eat.
Bruner acknowledged the difficulty of these expectations but explained that they are useful for fostering discipline and courtesy.
Few students outside of the Corps eat at Duncan. Cadets said it is likely due to Duncan’s distance from other popular buildings on campus and the misconception that the dining hall is open only to the Corps.
Sean-Collin Ray, sophomore computer engineering major and member of Squadron 18, said he would like to see a wider variety of students dine at Duncan.
"People might not want to come at breakfast, because it's so early, or at dinner, because so many freshmen will be sitting at attention," Ray said. "Lunch would be your best bet. Everyone is more relaxed, and they usually serve Genghis Grill. It's awesome."
Ray also explained why he thinks some cadets may choose Sbisa over Duncan at lunchtime.
"Most of them are [freshmen] who want to avoid their upperclassmen,” Ray said. “It isn't because they don't like the food."
Aaron Lindsey, sophomore computer science major, said he appreciates the traditional and regulated atmosphere of Duncan. He said the speed of service separates Duncan from Sbisa.
"In Sbisa you might wait in the pasta line for 20 minutes,” Lindsey said. “Here, it's more like grab-and-go. I like Duncan because you get your food so fast."
Changes are on the way for Duncan, according to ¬¬marketing manager for Chartwells dining services Gina Capetanakis. Students can expect major renovations within the next few years.
"The renovation goals are to improve the flow and service, as well as upgrade some of the equipment in the kitchen," she said. "Preliminary plans are actually being reviewed with the Corps of Cadets leadership in the coming weeks."
Meanwhile, small transitions are taking place. A self-serve pasta bar was added, and options for breakfast have increased.
Capetanakis said the stigma that the dining hall is open only for cadets is unwarranted.
"Everyone is always welcome at Duncan," she said. "Cadets and non-regimented students, faculty, staff and visitors."