dining options for athletes

how the Verney-Wooley’s dining hours inconvenience many

As we all know, the Verney-Woolley Dining Hall is one of the several dining options here at Brown University. Unlike the Sharpe Refectory, however, it closes Monday through Friday from 2:00–4:30 p.m. and reopens from 4:30–7:30 p.m., at which time it closes for the night. The V-Dub is also closed on the weekends. As the only all-you-can-eat dining option on Pembroke Campus, its hours of operation are important for students who live on Pembroke Campus but especially for student-athletes when considering its proximity to the athletic complex.

Among the sports teams at Brown, a common start/end time for practice, weight-lifting, film, or other team necessities is 3:00 p.m. At which time, it is safe to assume that the athlete has recently eaten before practice or will need to eat after. Inconveniently, this is also the time at which V-Dub is closed. This time conflict could be solved by the athlete eating at the Ratty, Andrews, or somewhere on Thayer, but it isn’t quite that simple. While the Ratty is open during this time, and is all-you-can-eat, the main issue is that it’s across campus from the athletic complex. The distance between the athletic complex and V-Dub compared to the distance from the athletic complex to Ratty becomes problematic when student-athletes are in a time-crunch to get to practice on time. Most athletes are expected to be ready for practice 15 minutes before the start time. If an athlete has a class or section on Pembroke Campus that ends at 1:50 p.m. and they have to be dressed and ready to go for a 3:00 p.m. practice at 2:45 p.m., there’s is simply no time to spend walking to and from the Ratty.

Now that the Ratty has been eliminated as a dining option during time-sensitive situations, which most athletes are usually in due to their busy schedules, offering Andrews as a dining option for athletes when the V-Dub is closed seems like a plausible idea. While it’s true that Andrews is open at 1:50 p.m., and it’s close to the athletic complex, a point of difficulty arises when recalling that Andrews serves by plate. This service does not appeal to the stomachs of athletes because they exert a great amount of energy on a daily basis and need several hundred calories to refuel themselves. In order to receive enough food, athletes, and students in general really, regularly use two meal swipes at satellite eateries on one purchase in an effort to cover the cost of getting enough food.

In agreement with the point made above, a sophomore on the women’s basketball team comments, “You also have to use more swipes at Andrews to get the same amount of food, which isn’t fair to us who can’t make the Verney-Woolley times [of service].”

Another option for athletes would be to buy food on Thayer St.—they could order as much as needed, and it’s only two blocks from the athletic complex. The problem with this logic is that restaurants on Thayer St. do not accept Brown’s meal swipes. This means that athletes would have to pay out-of-pocket for any and all purchases. For some students, it is simply not possible to purchase food on a daily basis, especially when acknowledging that they are still paying for the meal plan.

So far, the inconveniences that are created when the V-Dub closes throughout the day have been addressed. The same will be addressed for when it closes at 7:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and when it’s not open at all over the weekends.

While comparing the V-Dub and Andrews, the same women’s basketball player comments, “Andrews’s food after dinner time isn’t as healthy as [the] Verney-Woolley, since the main options at Andrews are pizza and pasta. As an athlete, I try to eat as healthy as possible, and eating pizza after practice every night doesn’t help.” It’s not just about having food, but also having nutritious food that will help the overall performance of the athlete.

For most teams at Brown, practice times vary day-to-day. However, the practice time for a particular day is the same week-to-week. For example, practice on Tuesdays may start at 3:00 p.m., but on Wednesdays it may start at 6:00 p.m. If this is the case, for a standard two-hour practice, an athlete could not eat at the V-dub after practice on Wednesdays or whenever else he or she had a late practice. In the evening there are a few more dining options, the Ivy Room and Josiah’s, but they pose the same inconvenience as the Ratty. Andrews is available and near the athletic complex, but as it’s already been established, Andrews is expensive when trying to get enough food. On the weekends, after a practice or game, the same problems arise.

For these reasons, the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) is currently working to solve this disparity. Co-President of SAAC Sarah Lucenti says, “We have created a questionnaire that we will be sending out to all Brown athletes to hopefully get some more specific numbers of the athletes affected by this issue and the number of athletes that would use the dining halls at the later hours.  We plan on sending this questionnaire out in the near future and then begin the process of advocating for change. I think it’s safe to say that most athletes have dealt with this issue at some point, so we hope to extend dining hall hours in order to accommodate those who aren’t able to make meals at the set hours.”

Considering all of the presented information, it is fair to conclude that student-athletes are heavily affected by the Verney-Woolley’s hours of operation, or lack thereof. To make their lives easier, it would be great to see the hours extended, or some other form of accommodation made.