The Hilltoss: Healthy or Hyped-Up?
The False Dichotomy

RETRACTION: The online Chatter column “The Hilltoss: Healthy or Hyped-Up?” (, Sept. 29, 2015) has been retracted due to misinformation and inaccuracy regarding the genesis of the Students of Georgetown, Inc. storefront, The Hilltoss and its offerings, thus invalidating the premise of the op-ed’s argument. In spring 2012, The Corp shared a poll with the entire student body to get feedback on what they would like to see in the space that would eventually become The Hilltoss. After more than 1,300 responses, the overwhelming majority wanted smoothies or salads, and The Hilltoss became the combined result. While many of the storefront’s products are priced on the high end, the store has made efforts to introduce low-cost items; the unfounded claims that followed these assertions turned a potentially collaborative and productive discussion into an unsubstantiated criticism of The Corp. The Hoya regrets the editorial oversight.

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  1. While a healthy salad option is welcome and wanted in the heart of campus, much of the expensive fad ingredients and options are there to feed the ego’s of the corpees not students. If the corp had to face real competition for leasing spaces on campus and thus making their money they might think about serving the rest of us…
    In this very vain, can it also be pointed out how the Hilltoss didn’t start selling salads until a month after classes started? (That’s 25% of the semester btw…so a loss of 25% of potential revenues…) If you want to provide a service than do it. Don’t fall back on having to train staff. That’s a silly reason not an excuse. Shockingly, Bulldog Tavern, Salad Creations and Sweet Green could train staff and be open when their customers want to eat, so if you can’t you shouldn’t be in business.

    ps If you can;t be trained to make a salad in a day you shouldn’t be able to come to georgetown. And if you can’t run a business you shouldn’t be given the space on campus to do it.

    • The Author says:

      Well said. I wrote this article before classes started and so I didn’t even know that the Hilltoss would take so long to start selling salads. Another example of why its existence is unjustified as a space of ‘convenience’ as you say so rightly. As well as this it needs the most amount of employees manning it than any of The Corp’s other stores and is not open on weekends- a perfect time to provide hungry students studying in HFSC or Lau a convenient snack/meal.

  2. Is this an article crying out for lower prices at The Hilltoss, or a hate-essay against The Corp?

    • The Author says:

      I genuinely did not intend this to be a Corp-bashing article. I would like this to be known to both supporters and critics. Personally I think I took it easy on The Corp. I understand my language is harsh and mocking, however I was simply explaining that it is an exclusive, frat-like group (a claim I thought fairly uncontroversial) and that it is wrong of the university to treat it otherwise (i.e. give it the power to decide what and how they serve students). I think The Corp does many unappreciated things for campus (Classy being the best example) and I think it cops a lot of unfair abuse. This article was about highlighting the disparity that exists in Georgetown’s student body and using the Hilltoss as an example of how many people, including the University itself, can be insensitive to this.

  3. Awesome piece. Hilltoss – unlike Snaxa, Vittles, or any of The Corp’s coffee shops – does not offer “convenience” to all Georgetown students. Rather, it offers convenience to the small percentage of wealthy, predominately white students who no longer have to walk to M street to spend money on expensive, trendy salads and juices.

    Grocery stores, bodegas, coffee shops: These are all necessities on a campus, which at Georgetown are provided by a large-scale, well-organized student corporation. That’s a cool aspect of our campus.

    But a hip, current, expensive salad/acai restaurant is not a necessity for any campus. Rather, it’s an attempt to drive profits from a popular food trend – an attempt that would be totally legitimate and even logical from a normal corporation. But The Corp is not a normal corporation, its a weird semi-monopoly given exclusive access to campus space by the university. Hilltoss is taking up high-value space in Georgetown’s newest and nicest student facility so the Corp can experiment with a new, expensive venture.

  4. Then why did you apply to the Corp?

    • Maybe he thought he could improve it?

    • The Author says:

      For the record I did apply to the Accounting division when I was a Freshman and I probably would have applied to other divisions if I hadn’t been so lazy. I have nothing against the existence of The Corp. I have encouraged freshmen to apply to The Corp, since I think it’s a great way to make friends. When I thought of applying freshman year it was purely out of the fact that I know The Corp has fun together and I know pretty much everyone else applied for the same reason (coincidentally the same reason someone rushes a social frat). I had no desire to apply to The Corp my sophomore year, since I had a firm friend set already.

      My claim that it is ‘excluding and insulating’ and ‘cliquey’ stems from the fact that any group of best friends is inherently of this nature. I believe that it is not this fact that is wrong but the fact the university provides a ‘cliquey’ group, which will inevitably be relatively undiverse, seems off to me, since it is highly likely that they do not understand the needs of other less-well-off students.

      *Also for what it’s worth I applied to accounting because I wanted to learn a vocational skill that I wouldn’t learn in school as a non MSB student. You think you get 600 applicants a semester because kids are so keen how to make coffee and give change??

  5. SorryNotSorry says:

    Sorry you applied and were rejected. Life will go on.

    Check your privilege.

    • The Author says:

      Read the article and the responses above and then check yours mate. (also learn what check your privilege means)

  6. Wow this was a waste of an article.

  7. also can i just say the most annoying part of going to hilltoss when you’re poor is knowing that the employees there (most of whom probably don’t need this perk considering over half of their paychecks never even get picked up) get their salads for FREE. yep, if they work shifts they get free salads. makes me not want to go there even more

    • This probably has a lot more to do with the price of salads too. No one else in the Corp gets this perk either, only Hilltoss employees – the rest of them just get free beverages and only if the beverages are under $3.50. The Hilltoss was created to be an exclusive clique within the Corp that has no interest other than the fluffing of their own egos providing a service no one else wants at a price no one (not even the Corp) can afford.

      • It could have something to do with the fact that The Hilltoss employees work harder than any other employees at The Corp.

        It could have something to do with the fact that The Hilltoss management appreciates that work and grants their employees this benefit.

        EVERY restaurant allows a meal after a shfit. EVERY ONE. I’ve worked as a server at two restaurants in my home town and it is no different.

        You people are so quick to jump the gun on The Corp. Think a little about the ignorance of your statements.

        • I see. Try telling the people working exam week at Midnight and morning rush at MUG that they aren’t hard-working. Try telling the people who are working internal services like accounting and HR for less that 20% of what the going market rate for those jobs are that they simply aren’t doing something as difficult as throwing together a salad – a job that is definitively minimum wage pay grade everywhere else but the Corp. There’s a reason everyone from the CEO down gets paid minimum wage at the Corp and that’s because it’s about students serving students, or at least it was until the Hilltoss came along. Corpies at UG and MUG make smoothies that they can’t shift but corpies at the Hilltoss can because screw price competition or value. It’s no secret that the Hilltoss is hemorrhaging money and that the Corp could have given out $100,000 more in scholarships last semester than they did if the Hilltoss hadn’t eaten every last drop of profits from the company’s revenue.

          Also, the argument that every restaurant allows a meal after a shift is silly. Restaurants don’t hire employees for 2 hour shifts and give them a meal after every one of them. When hilltossers start working 40 hours a week then throwing in lunch as an industry standard makes sense, until then you all are just the best paid to-go salad makers in the entire country.

          I don’t know why it’s worth arguing though, you all even got the Hoya to censor a perfectly valid criticism of your business failure rather than make a public response or try and correct it. Cowardly if you ask me.

        • The Author says:

          I actually agree with ‘the server’- this point detracts from the main point of my article, and yes the employees do deserve a free meal. As I said in the article, in the three times I have been to the Hilltoss, it was pleasantly surprising how smooth and helpful the servers were. The Hilltoss definitely exhibits a level of professionall-behavior that is rare not only for The Corp but probably all student-run institutes.

          However it is worth noting that the reason you work so hard and have so many employees at the same time is that you’re making an unnecessarily very expensive and labor-intensive product, which undoubtedly the consumer has to compensate for. It would be much cheaper and more universally liked to have a healthy sandwich store, a deli or another supermarket.

  8. This article raises good questions. I recall an exposé by the Voice a few years back about the Corp’s spending habits and ‘service’ vs ‘frat’ mission. I wonder how much money they spend these days on alcohol and parties vs. on scholarships and the community. Also, they were closed unannounced for almost a week over the summer and I heard rumors that the University was behind the closure – anyone know what the story with that was?

    I’d definitely love to see a campus media scoop on the Corp’s practices regarding diversity, drinking and spending and why the University gives support to the Corp but not to fraternities that also pay lip service to community service whilst being exclusive binge drinking clubs.

    • The Author says:

      Would love to read that article. I was initially surprised that this topic has not been explored as much as it should have, although the retraction now makes me understand. While there are obvious dangers of having a student-run service(inevitably less efficient workers since they’re friends with their bosses, lots of ‘mates’ rates’ etc.), the Corp does well in every other division to make up for the detriments of being a social group. The Hilltoss however is a glaringly obvious outlier since it is clearly catered to the demographic and culture which compose The Corp.

  9. I couldn’t agree more. Overpriced chichi food and obnoxiously loud pop music make for a lousy addition to an otherwise very pleasant new student space. Thanks for the article!

  10. Bravo. Just…. bravo.

    **que massive Corp defensive formation**

  11. loving all the corpies scrambling to protect their infallible “brand” in the comments

  12. “While it does not actively discriminate, it creates a culture that excludes and insulates.”

    I’d go as far as to say the Corp does actively discriminate. They don’t release their diversity statistics but from my understanding they are less than flattering with a disproportionate number of whitepeople. Just drop by any service and you’ll see. My guess is that all races are about as likely to get interviews but the ones who are the best “cultural fit” end up being white the vast majority of the time. If a corpie would like to disagree, please share your stats here.

    • Guafscufordays says:

      the Corp does realize the lack of diversity that exists within it. And it has tried to fix the issue buy including a diveristy question on the application. However, people forget that the field from which the Corp is choosing from (i.e. the Georgetown undergrad population) is not as diverse as one would like. In total this semester 15 african americans applied to the Corp and 5 got in a 33% clip. Far higher than the normal acceptance rate.

    • The Author says:

      Saying that The Corp actively discriminates is a fairly serious accusation and I wouldn’t throw it around without strong evidence (that’s not to say I wouldn’t be particularly surprised if it did). I did write this article with help from two of my friends who are high up in BSA and heavily involved in Georgetown’s African-American community. They said that for many of their friends The Corp simply didn’t provide the same attraction as it did to their white friends simply on the lack of overlapping cultural similarities and therefore interests, hobbies etc.

      • There’s only so much evidence out there since The Corp keeps most of that information private that although 15 people who identify as black applied, 290 white people applied. Given that almost 10% of the study body is African American, this discrepancy seems a little noticeable. Of those who were hired, only 5% were black. It’s possible that the reason minorities don’t often apply to the Corp is because it cultivates an environment that they don’t feel like they’d be welcome in. At the very least, it would be prudent for the Corp to share the internal diversity statistics it keeps with the campus community they serve to prove that, despite perceptions, minorities are welcome in their club.

  13. “(most of whom probably don’t need this perk considering over half of their paychecks never even get picked up)” … honestly where you do guys get this stuff?

  14. Rolling My Eyes says:

    I’m not sure what is up with the Hoya articles lately. I’ll preface my comment with the fact that I’m not a part of the Corp, I’ve never applied to the Corp, I’m not white, and I don’t come from a wealthy family. I love the Hilltoss! It’s one of a few healthy options on campus (Salad Creations is not healthy, for all of you confused) and a great food option, especially considering the recent health report of Leo’s. I agree it is pretty expensive, but that’s the cost of fresh ingredients. I don’t agree that they get overrated or trendy ingredients; avocado is a staple, not a new fad. Also agave nectar is a healthy alternative for sugar and a vegan option for those who can’t do honey. Of course if you add smoothies and what not it adds up. No matter where you go, if you get enough stuff the cost adds up. Limit yourself. Also, it’s not meant to be a study space, hint the “weird Corp music”. We all have different tastes in music, so they cannot please everyone. But it’s supposed to be a place to eat and socialize with friends. I think it’s a great addition to campus, whether or not they would have gotten the spot if students were polled or they had to compete with other businesses. You are not entitled to a restaurant that fits all of your preferences, that plays your music, and fits your budget. The Corp doesn’t owe you anything. So if they were actively discriminating against you I would agree, but since they’re not and you just don’t like it, then yes just don’t go.

    • The University counts the HSFC as a study space in the most recent campus plan proposal diagrams so at the very least they should drop the volume to where it doesn’t bleed through the whole student center.

    • The Author says:

      Before I talk about anything else, I would like to address “The Corp doesn’t owe you anything.” Since it receives subsidized rent and perks from the University I would consider it the equivalent of a government-funded body, and as a tax-payer (i.e. I pay tuition), it most definitely exists to serve me and my fellow students. I actually come from a pretty wealthy family and the Hilltoss is within my budget if had on occasion, however I do believe that those who aren’t as lucky are defintiely entitled to a ‘restaurant that fits [their] budget”

      To answer your first point, by adding agave nectar, instead of honey and sugar you significantly drive up the prices, alienating more consumers than it’s worth. As well as this, veganism, dieting and vegetarianism are all,while perhaps noble, choices (except in the case of religion, in which case a diet close to vegan is very rare)-and people make them keeping in mind the opportunity cost. Socio-economic status is not. Convenience should have been the most important aim for this store. There are plenty of healthy food options for those who can afford it off-campus (and if you really want to be healthy then you could do with a three block walk to sweetgreen), there are however few cheap options. I am the son of a pediatrician, so I know all about how important healthy foods are, however I know the single most important thing for a student is having a good blood sugar level when studying and for many males a salad is not filling and worth it, and for many students it’s unaffordable on a regular basis.

      Second, the music comment was an example of how blissfully unaware the Hilltoss is of student body’s desires. During finals it is always extremely difficult to find a spot to study, and since our tuition is going towards the Hilltoss’ space I believe that it should be catering to our needs. The music they play loudly during finals is most definitely not for consumers but for the employeesThe inability to adapt to the student body’s needs on such a basic level symbolizes an ethos of self-centredness. Also the comment about it being ‘weird’ was mostly written as a joke and for entertainment.

  15. Epi also serves kombucha with similar prices on food.. They must not get the heart of this campus either

    • The Author says:

      I don’t know why I’m wasting time on this comment but here goes:

      Epi provides much cheaper and more filling alternatives and also it’s consumer base is mostly for hospital staff and med-students (i.e. older and richer people). Secondly it’s about ‘students serving students’.

  16. So sorry to see the Hoya editorial board shy away from what is clearly an contested issue on campus. A simple correction would have sufficed to notify readers of the survey taken last year (as seen on many online publications that include errors upon initial publication). It’s a shame that this paper feels beholden to the Corp, and is afraid to spark discussion around issues related to campus life when the Corp is involved.

    Just lost a lot of respect for this publication.

  17. Really upset by this article retraction.

  18. This censorship is shameful and a total violation of journalistic ethics. The survey does not invalidate the premise of the article. Hoya editors knew about the survey going in and still originally published this op-ed. I have no special hatred for the Corp, but it is gross and corrupt for The Hoya to retract a fair criticism (and really a pretty mild one) at the whims of an organization that already holds an ethically questionable monopoly on Georgetown’s campus. I don’t know why this article was really taken down–for all I know, legal action was threatened–but absent further explanation, this cowardly retraction makes me ashamed to have ever written for The Hoya.

    • The Author says:

      Basically what I emailed my editor. Well said and thank you for understanding that it was a pretty mild and fair criticism. I too feel extremely ashamed that I write for the Hoya, but alas Beggars can’t be choosers and the resume needs to be filled somehow.

  19. Extremely disappointed at this retraction and censorship. That is the truly unsubstantiated element of this issue.

    • The Author says:

      “unsubstantiated criticism” got me pretty mad tbh. I thought a lot of the points were fair and I agree that it is a completely nonsensical retraction by the hoya. Thanks for the support

  20. seriously? this is the article that’s retracted? ಠ_ಠ

  21. Right to Retract says:

    Are people really more upset by the retraction of an inaccurate article than by the fact that an inaccurate article was published in the first place. At least The Hoya owned up to a mistake. Maybe the many blow-hard commenters on here should find out the facts about the Corp and Hilltoss, then print their own retractions.

    • In every other publication there would be a correction rather than a retraction. Just because there was a survey saying that students wanted a salad shop (out of a list of like 5 options) doesn’t mean they wanted an overpriced mess that sells weird apple sauce bowls and $12 smoothies while blasting obnoxiously loud music through the entire student center.

      If the Hoya really wants to cave to requests to censor free speech to appease the Corp’s strong-arming that’s their business but it’s certainly not an ethical practice. The article was not inaccurate – if you want to read it let me know because I saved a copy. It raised a number of incredibly valid points that were simply ignored in the retraction. Removing an entire article because of a single alleged flaw (nowhere in the article did it suggest that a survey did not occur) doesn’t make any sense. The Corp should have issued a response rather than demanding a retraction. This was a cowardly attempt to high their failing business and bruised egos from the eyes of the campus community and nothing less. Also, a survey of less than 10% of the student body is hardly a reason that criticizing the Hilltoss should not be allowed.

    • Openly think the Corp is Creepy says:

      There’s an unpleasant truth in the retraction of this article. This article is a showcase of the high burden of proof you need to criticize the Corp, because they’re willing to leverage social ostracism, or the privilege of ignoring their detractors without consequences under the guise of “Corp Loyalty.” I don’t even bother criticizing the Corp to corpies, because it’s depressingly sisyphean.

      But I don’t forget walking through the lounge outside uncommon grounds last year and hearing two corpies talk about “hiring the hot ones.” Between that, and the “hook-up books” and charts that MUG and other Corp locations keep, it’d be downright stupid to deny that the Corp engages in predatory hiring practices. Tell me the existence of these books means that sex isn’t on mind during interviews, when looking forward to parties, during alcohol-binge “retreats.” They’ll probably cry in response “All student groups at Georgetown do this!” Well you’re a massive conglomerated business. Hold yourself to a higher standard.

      The Hilltoss also serves salads at about 10 dollars a piece, not including drinks and other meal items. Let’s be real, those are rich people prices. Those of us who can’t afford it don’t speak up much because we’re often met with the refrain of the commenter above: “if you don’t like it, don’t go”. But it hurts knowing the the Students of Georgetown Inc. would carve out a space on campus where we’re not welcome.

      I’m tired of having to carefully word all my criticisms of the Corp because they’ll jump down your throat, or completely ignore you when criticized. They’re a cool idea that’s become the “cool kids table”, and they were one of my least favorite parts of Georgetown.

      • The Author says:

        Well said, however I believe that this is not a problem exclusive to The Corp but many student-run organizations. It is worth noting, however, since it does not have a concrete set of criteria for selection The Corp is definitely more prone to this than groups such as GUAFSCU, GUSIF, The Hoya etc.

        (While still incredibly important if not more so) this is another discussion to be had, and not particularly relevant to this article. Perhaps it can be argued that this is another example of how it fails to accept the most competent and diverse candidates.

      • Albert Camus says:


        M. Openly think the corp is creepy,

        As a dead french philosopher, I do not think myself capable of responding to the content of your argument about this institution, “The Corp.” It is perhaps bizarre, however, that an institution with so much influence would have also such insecurity and shame to censure an article, in other words an act of free speech, like this.

        I wanted instead to inform you of a vocabulary error. I invite you to reread my book, The Myth of Sisyphus, especially the final chapter concerning the story of Sisyphus. I direct you to the last page, where I write: “The fight to the heights is itself enough to fill the heart of a man. We should imagine Sisyphus happy.”

        In this analysis, what is “sisyphean” cannot be at the same time “depressing.” We can say that you have unfortunately missed the point of the story: confronted with the silence of the world, Sisyphus finds that this masterless universe not sterile nor futile.

        M. Albert Camus


        M. O,

        Comme philosophe morte français, je ne me pense pas capable de répondre au contenu de votre argument sur cette institution, “The Corp.” Il est peut-être bizzare que un institution avec tellement de pouvoir aurait aussi tellement honte pour faire censurer un article d’opinion, autrement dit, un acte de libre expression, dans ce maniere.

        Je voulais de coup vous informer d’un erreur de vocabulaire. Je vous invite à relire mon livre, Le Mythe de Sisyphe, especialement le chapitre final qui concerne Sisyphe. Je vous dirige vers le page final, (168 dans l’édition folio) où je dis, “La lutte elle-même vers les sommets suffit à remplir un coeur d’homme. Il faut imaginer Sisyphe heureux.” Dans cette analyse, ce que est “sysiphean” ne peut pas être à la foi “depressing.” On peut dire que vous avez, malheuresement, manqué le point de l’histoire: face à le silence déraisonable du monde, il trouve que cette universe sans maître est ni sterile ni futile.


    • The Author says:

      I came to Georgetown in 2013, so I apologize that I did not know about the poll. To that argument however I say that a) the article should not have been retracted since it is quite clearly not central to the article’s thesis and there are still many valid points in there, b) I don’t think the student body was expecting an exact sweetgreen replica, c) as the comment below shows, the poll was definitely rigged, d) as I state before in of my response and in the article, since the article excludes a fair proportion of students from less well-off socio-economic statuses, it is highly likely that a lot of them did not pay attention to the poll in 2012, while many Corp kids did.

  22. To be clear, the options on this consensus survey that proves that the Hilltoss is exactly perfect for the Georgetown Community had the following options on it:
    Salad shop
    Smoothie shop
    Ice-cream stand
    Another coffee shop
    Another grocery store

    Additionally, the results were rigged to favor the Hilltoss because they combined Salad and Smoothie shop together to get the majority even though neither won on its own.

    This retraction, which is more or less unprecedented in the Hoya’s history, was based on a lie from the Corp. There was no “overwhelming majority” in favor of the Hilltoss and, even if there was, the way the Hilltoss shaped up isn’t unimpeachable as a result. A 6 option survey with doctored results chosen from a list of things where 3 out of the 6 already existed on campus at the time of the survey (now 4/6) and only two were full-service food options is hardly representative of the community’s interest. Also, the ice cream shop had already been tried by the Corp (upstairs Wiseys) a few years back and failed miserably so they probably knew that wouldn’t win. Add in the fact that not even 10% of the student body voted, that most of those who did have since graduated and that 25% of the votes likely came from Corpies and there’s nothing valid about the assertion that the hilltoss met undying demand. In short, in a survey of corpies and their friends with two real options the combination of those two options just barely managed to win. Hardly proof that the campus community must indefinitely approve of the Hilltoss in all forms of published media…..

    • The Author says:

      Wow this is incredibly interesting and seems like a failure on The Hoya’s part to not release these facts. “another” is such a brilliantly subtle way to heavily market and advertize the other options. Thank you for insightful comments and research!

      It’s worth noting that ‘salad shop’ is the only option that provides ready made meals from the six and I think the student body voted for that option greatly not because of the salads but because of the want for convenient access to ready made meals. Shame they’re not so convenient for those can’t afford them.

  23. That this article was retracted is hilarious. The little explanation blurb sounds like a kid whining to his mom that his friend took his toy. A quality publication would have added an editor’s correction to the original article or just written a response editorial. I couldn’t possibly have a more ambivalent attitude toward the Corp but this has made me lose all trust in The Hoya. Shame on the editorial board for retracting and also writing this joke of an explanation which sounds like it was written by someone in the Corp.

  24. HoyaSaxa16 says:

    Consider that the Chair of The Corp’s Board of Directors is also on The Hoya’s Board of Directors, and that The Hoya’s Chair of the Board is (was?) also in The Corp. I wonder if that had anything to do with the self-censorship decision.

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