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Save Ashdown Dining!

So many of us have enjoyed the opportunity to participate in the dining program offered by the new Ashdown dorm, NW35, that we have taken its presence for granted. The diverse menu, pleasant atmosphere and the surprisingly low prices have been highly convenient and enjoyable, especially for graduate students such as myself.

What made Ashdown Dining different was not just its accessible location (two Tech Shuttle stops away from main campus and a short walk away from the four main graduate dorms), its accommodating personnel (who were almost always serving the students with a smile), or its wide range of options (which included a variety of cuisines, as well as vegetarian options). It was also the philosophy behind Ashdown Dining, which its manager, Beverly Collet, called “white cloth service for brown bag clients” in an interview published in the Tech.

The commitment to food quality was evident to all the diners, and the dinner options were, in my opinion, comparable or better to those at nearby restaurants. In addition, the dining service was focused on being environmentally friendly by using local and organic ingredients whenever possible, serving food on reusable plates, and minimizing waste by only having students come for a second serving after they were done with the first one.

With so many great things going for it, Ashdown Dining’s problem was that it wasn’t making enough money to support its operations. Currently, campus dining is provided as a service to the student community and is not expected to make money. MIT could not afford in the current economic situation, and the administration decided to shut down the food services at Ashdown Dining starting next fall.

But there is something we can do to make the administration change its mind. If you have ever eaten at Ashdown, you will agree with me that it would be worth paying more for this kind of all-you-can-eat service than the $8 we were being charged. Perhaps you would be willing to commit to eating at Ashdown five or ten evenings a month.

While the best options are still being worked out, it seems clear that by showing community-wide support for Ashdown Dining, including a willingness to pay more or commit to being a semi-regular customer, the administration may realize that the operation is sustainable and will not need to be subsidized as heavily.

So, if you would like to keep Ashdown Dining open next year, please join the Facebook group “Save Ashdown Dining” today. Together, we can make a difference!

Leonid Chindelevitch