Joe Kulesza ’22
Providence College is in many ways a beautiful campus. The Gothic architecture of Ruane and Harkins Hall is a historic staple of Catholic colleges, situating PC in the greater tradition of liberal arts institutions. The west side of campus is where Saint Dominic Chapel is located, decorated with 45 stained glass windows and an ornate cupola. On lower campus sits the business school, which opened in 2017, and serves as a mark of how far the College has come and how much it plans to grow and develop into the future.
Yet, despite all the prominent buildings and the beauty on this quintessential New England campus, it is the College’s Raymond Dining Hall, colloquially referred to as “Ray,” which incontestably elicits the most conversation among students here on campus.
But Ray’s reputation is one that is quite different from the other buildings on campus, for if Ruane was the class salutatorian, Ray is that kid your parents do not want you hanging around with after school.
Conversations surrounding Ray do not involve ornate cupolas, or Gothic architecture, but rather include topics such as stomach pain, heartburn, or gastrointestinal tract upset. Yes, it is true that Ray is the problem child of the buildings here on campus, and recent renovations inside Raymond Hall have continued its reputation of being the talk of the town.
In the College’s concerted efforts to make changes for the better, though, improvements have been made to the interior of the building, including but not limited to: new serving stations, different seating arrangements, and an upgraded DIY station.
Just like an indecisive teenager, Ray has taken on yet another identity this year, trying desperately to change its reputation so that it can avoid further criticism and blame as the cause of students’ various digestive troubles.
The conversation now becomes whether these changes have been enough to serve as an inflection point in Ray’s long and tumultuous history with the student body at PC.
Thus far, it appears the renovations have had little impact on the student body’s opinion of the dining hall. Seasoned Ray customers Tommy Diverio ’22 and Frankie Radics ’22 are students who have opted for a meal plan during their final year at school.
While both of them find it convenient for the majority of their cooking needs to be taken care of during the busy academic year, they voiced concerns about the changes. Diverio spoke to the fact that the food has not changed, saying: “The new lights are pretty cool, but the food is exactly the same as last year. When did we ask for new lights?”
A similar conclusion was made by Radics, who opted for the 105-swipe plan this year. Radics reiterated other students’ concerns that “the food is still pretty much the same” as years prior.
A final interview with Chris DeLuca ’22 only served to substantiate the two previous opinions, as he, too, was left wondering, “Why is Ray changing everything but the food?”
With all of this having been said, it is very likely the case that satisfying the different eating preferences of 4,000 college students is a monumental task for just one kitchen. Yet, despite this, there have been concerns with the food at Raymond Dining Hall for at least the past several years.
Niche, a popular website for reviewing colleges, has consistently rated the campus food a “D,” and the student consensus has also been quite obvious, with various petitions being signed by students over the last few years.
The novel-length saga of Raymond Dining Hall is one that continues into yet another year, with every student curious about how much longer it will continue.
It has become apparent the crux of the issue is the food, and not the facilities. Putting lipstick on a pig still leaves you with just a pig, and changing the serving stations of Ray still leaves you with Ray.