WKU students find common ground over on-campus dining options

Julianna Lowe

Scattered across campus, clustered in DSU and Garett’s food courts, WKU offers a grand total of 24 on-campus dining options. From the easily-forgotten Den at the bottom of the hill and crowd-favorite Chick-Fil-A in the center of DSU to everyone’s guilty pleasure, Panda Express, WKU does not fall short on the variety of restaurants that are open to students.

However, whether it’s in the dining area of Fresh Food Company or the long, winding line of Izzi’s, students are constantly voicing their complaints about the state of the dining options that WKU provides. Freshman mechanical engineering major Max Wilson picked up on WKU’s dining quickly. 

“The amount of restaurants is nice,” Wilson said. “But the value meal selection is not. Each meal swipe feels repetitive, and I can’t be sure I’m getting enough food.”

There is no shortage of meal swipes for fried chicken and french fries — just swipe your ID at Redzone, Chick-Fil-A or Grille Works and the craving is satisfied. But has the hunger subsided? For sophomore psychology major Nick Richtor, it has.

“It is the same food over and over,” Richtor said. “But I do feel like I can get enough food out of one meal swipe.”

While WKU offers value meals at its various locations, it also offers buffet-style locations like Fresh Food Company and Hilltopper Hub that will satisfy hunger.

However, students perceive these dining halls as restrictive to various dietary needs.

“Fresh is very hit or miss,” Richtor said. “Vegetarian options are few and far between, and it seems to be even worse for a vegan lifestyle. Anyone with dietary restrictions is kind of screwed on a meal plan.”

Even without dietary restrictions, students have encountered difficulty trying to balance a meal plan with healthy eating. Shaye Maxwell, business administration sophomore, has almost lost her appetite as a result of dining options. 

“As a student trying to lose weight, the on-campus options are bland,” Maxwell said. “There’s barely any healthy food that’s actually appetizing here. There’s fried food everywhere, so adding some healthier options to different locations doesn’t sound like a bad idea to me.”

With two Papa John’s locations, the never-ending line at Chick-Fil-A and the popularity of Panda’s orange chicken, students share the popular opinion that WKU’s campus does not exactly encourage healthy eating. Emilee Marshall, sophomore accounting major, has encountered the same difficulty.

“It’s really hard to be vegetarian — or even just healthy — on campus,” Marshall said. “It’s basically putting the “freshman fifteen” on students.”

WKU students seem to agree: the on-campus dining options are plentiful, but the accessibility to healthy foods is simply not there. Coming from a much smaller school, transfer student and English and Spanish sophomore Lauren Varner brings a new perspective to WKU’s campus.

“Coming from MSU, there are a lot more dining options at WKU,” Varner said. “There is enough variety in food choices, for sure, because you can go anywhere and there will likely be alternatives for different diets. There are so many places to go to meet with people or eat alone while you work, so there are definitely a lot of options.”

While opinions about campus dining seem to differ, the consensus is that WKU has options. There’s always something new to try at the top of the hill, bottom of the hill and everywhere in between. 

Features reporter Julianna Lowe can be reached at [email protected]