College Culture Sketch- Cafeterias

October 27th, 2016

At precisely 11 a.m everyday, the double-glass doors to the cafeteria are propped open for lunch time. A hungry herd of students both male and female feverishly dig out their IDs from their backpacks or pockets while forming a crude single- file line. Once the computer monitor beeps, confirming the payment of the meal, the line disassembles to various parts of the cafeteria.

Large groups, typically sports groups, travel in their respective packs to their “official tables”. The rest file into booths, high tables and low tables in the same general area as the day before. The freshly wiped tables become cluttered with ID’s, cell phones and jangling keys.  A wide array of colorful backpacks decorate the floor or extra empty chairs, which serves as the universal sign for “this spot has been taken”.

“Where should we sit?” asks Ashley Peterson, even though she has a predestination of the general area in mind. Without hesitating for an answer, she navigates her way through the maze of tables and students to a high table.

“What’s there to eat today? Anything good? What’s in that far line?” are all follow up questions that Peterson often asks to  whoever is accompanying her that day.

After meandering through all of her options, she finally settles for soup, which is a typical sign that nothing else if good that day.

Even though students often complain about the food, the find themselves constantly coming back for various reasons.


One Response to “College Culture Sketch- Cafeterias”

  1. fuglsang on October 30, 2016 2:32 pm

    I like the word disassemble. Disintegrate might also be good.

    Those “universal signs” are cultural, to some degree. Using a phone to hold a spot is more college-related. Anywhere else that phone is stolen.

    This offers a good opportunity for description. Now think about what you want to inform the reader about. Will your article help students understand and navigate the cafeteria? WIll it show them something new, or add a new perspective? Will it reveal something about themselves they hadn’t considered?

    I might go with that last one. The culture article we read pointed out that we often do things without seeing the “big picture.” We’re blind to certain things because we are so accustomed to doing them. It’s habit. One thing you might do is talk to someone about “marking/claiming territory.” A biologist could probably explain it. Talk to someone about habitual behavior.

    Article: http://psychology.iresearchnet.com/social-psychology/group/territoriality/

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