Charles Nailen/The Hoya Though gourmet meals like this sandwich can be created by the ambitious diner, New South’s food didn’t make the grade when rated alongside other university dining halls.

As U.S. colleges and universities look for new ways to compete for prospective students, the quality of academics, athletics – and now even dining hall food – has become the focus of scrutiny. Staff reporter for The Wall Street Journal Pooja Bhatia, along with top local chefs, sat down to critique a meal – in Georgetown’s New South Dining Hall and the cafeterias of 19 other American schools.

In the Nov. 8 article, the writer described the revolutionizing of dining areas as schools try to attract more students. The report said schools are bringing in top-notch chefs, pricey organic ingredients, pasta stations, espresso makers and sushi bars.

Georgetown’s dining services did not quite match up to Yale University’s leather chairs and chandeliers, or the University of Miami’s custom juice station in satisfying the reviewers’ tastes.

Specifically, New South’s specialty was the steamship round of beef. Its best feature was its “lavish fresh fruit display.” The dining hall lost points for the “staffers’ hairnets,” which the article listed as New South’s worst feature. Also in comparison to other schools, New South was criticized for its lack of sushi, made-to-order pasta and carving roast. Additional comments about the cafeteria included the complaints of the fish’s “fishiness” and floury shrimp bisque.

Georgetown did score points in one category: ice cream. New South led the pack with 12 different flavors of ice cream. The only schools that came even close were the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Chicago, which each had nine flavors.

The amenities at other schools noted in the article seemed appealing to both students and News South staff. “Maybe we should have pasta made to order. I think students would like that,” New South Dining Hall staffer Benny Bender said.

Many students said that they get tired of the same food. “There’s not enough variety. There should be more than just pizza, hamburgers, chicken patties and fries everyday,” Rashad Jones (SFS ’06) said.

Other students commented on Georgetown’s lack of food perks that are available at other schools. “No sushi? This is an outrage!” Laith Masarweh (COL ’06) said.

While New South garnered only two stars, other university dining halls fared worse. Though Georgetown was criticized for its staff’s hairnets, the University of Michigan was accused of having “congealed tuna salad.” In addition, the University of California at Berkeley was faulted for its “dismal decor” and Columbia University’s dining hall was condemned for its “dishwater smell.”

The review also recounted the high revenues that schools are bringing in as result of meal plans. College dining brings in $9 billion per year, which is about the same amount that Americans spend in fine restaurants every year. Duke University recently broadened its meal plan options – a promotion that increased its revenue 55 percent, to $22 million.

In the past year, room and board costs rose 5 percent nationwide to an average of $6,800 at four-year private schools. This is compared with Georgetown University’s average of $10,000. uch of this cost is attributable to a student meal plan. Currently, a carte blanche meal plan costs $1,650 per semester. Some students believe this is too high and could be better spent. “I think with all the good restaurants in Georgetown, people should take some of the money usually spent on a meal plan and go out to eat,” Joshua Katz (SFS ’06) said.

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