In defense of Antonian Hall: a complaint against complaining

Clement Harrold

Student Government Vice President

As someone with a strong propensity to melancholy, I am well-versed in pointing out problems, highlighting negatives and taking a generally pessimistic approach to life (all in the name of “realism,” of course). Such is my temperament.

But that doesn’t mean my attitude is a good one. In fact, many times I consider my pessimism — and people’s habitual complaining more generally — to be a positively bad thing.

A perfect illustration of the problem came for me last week when Student Government conducted a survey on students’ experiences with the cafeteria this semester.

“Horrible,” declared one student. “It’s gross,” was the only articulation another could provide. For a third, a solitary sad face emoji was all they needed to express how they felt. Of course, there were some more constructive comments. But these remained the slim minority; for the great majority of students, it seems, the only suitable response was to complain.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t exactly consider the Caf to be “fine dining.” (And this is coming from someone who enjoys McDonald’s and Taco Bell on a weekly basis.) It has its challenges, to be sure, and there are times (especially on weekends) when I’ve walked in there and realized with a sinking feeling that I made a terrible mistake in not joining my household brothers on their latest Bennigan’s run.

But this raises a simple question: Does that say more about the Caf or about me? And here’s another: Since when did “fine dining” become our standard? If I can walk into Franciscan’s cafeteria and feel nothing but disappointment at the lack of options or the quality of the food, then I’m sorry, but the problem does not lie with Parkhurst — the problem lies squarely with me and with the ludicrously self-centered, entitled mindset which I’ve adopted.

According to the United Nations, 690 million people around the world regularly go to bed hungry. That’s 690 million people who would give almost anything to experience the extraordinary level of luxury that we enjoy on our campus — and that includes our cafeteria.

According to the 2018 Global Wealth Report, if your family has a net worth (including assets) of $93,000 or more, then you are among the wealthiest 10% of people in the world today, and probably among the top 0.01% of everyone who has ever lived. I daresay a lot of Frannies meet that threshold. But of course, that isn’t something you’d realize, based on how often we complain about … well, just about everything.

Returning to the question of dining, let’s just reflect for a moment on the fact that our very own Antonian Hall is a multi-floor establishment which, on an average day, hosts at least six different food stations serving as much food as you can eat, much of it freshly prepared, including unlimited coffee, salad, cereal, ice cream and soda. Not bad for a college cafeteria.

But that’s just not good enough for the modern-day college student, apparently. “It’s disgusting,” we constantly moan. “I’d rather make my own food,” we dramatically declare, little realizing how privileged we are to have that option.

Indeed, the fact of the matter is that the vast majority of us who study at a place like Franciscan are unbelievably privileged by any historical or contemporary standard. The fact that we have sufficient disposable income to go waste on Dunkin or Kroger only corroborates the point. Yet, time and again we are so incredibly ungrateful for all the gifts and luxuries we enjoy.

Now as my friends will readily attest, I am as guilty as the next person. We can all do better. So, my fellow Frannies, I challenge you and me to make a simple resolution: to complain a little less, and to give thanks a little more.


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