Editorial -- Keep Next House's Cafeteria OpenFood Service Director Lawrence E. Maguire's recent suggestion to resolve the campus dining problem is a refreshing move towards establishing a truly voluntary dining system at MIT. Not only would the proposed system eliminate the ill-conceived mandatory meal plan system proposed in January, it would also close several under-utilized and non-essential house cafeterias.
Unfortunately, the sole dining hall that would remain in service under the plan -- the dining hall at Baker House -- is not the one that would best meet the demands of the entire undergraduate community. If only one dining hall can remain open, it should be the one in Next House.
Next House's cafeteria is convenient for a large number of students; it serves Next, New House, and MacGregor House residents. Next House residents, who do not have access to the kitchens that many dormitory residents use, would be forced to walk to Baker for meals. Lobdell Court, which would remain open under the new plan, already serves the Baker dining community, and Maguire would be wise to spread the remaining open cafeterias across the campus as widely as possible.
Ideally, both the Next House and Baker cafeterias could remain open. Both do substantial business during the term, and both are highly valued by residents and non-residents alike. If the two can only remain open at the cost of some minimal declining-balance meal plan, then so be it. The meal plan fees discussed over the last year are too high, but closing at least two dining halls may provide enough savings to keep the cost of a meal plan low. West Campus students, in general, will tolerate a low-priced meal plan if it is necessary to keep from starving.