Swiping right(s)

May 6, 2015 by Ned Lauber

If you haven’t checked out the app Tinder yet, your life isn’t complete. “Tinder is how people meet. It’s like real life, but better.” These two sentences from Tinder’s website make up the most accurate statement I’ve ever read. Tinder allows you to see the name, photo and age of a person and decide, based on that information alone, whether you will swipe right to “like” them or swipe left to “pass” on them. Oh yeah, Tinder also lets you view additional photos, but most people just look at the initial profile.

The great thing about Tinder is that you can swipe right for as many people as you want until you run out of people in your set geographic radius. If anyone ever swipes right on you, you’ll “match” with him or her. This is a great way to connect with people. Tinder never stops you from swiping right on someone because you’ve got too many matches. You can keep using Tinder until you have 36 matches or 184 matches. Unfortunately, dining halls at the College don’t work the same way.

Unlike swiping right in Tinder, every time you swipe your card for a meal, you lose one precious meal. Every first-year is required to be on the 21-meal plan, and there’s no meal plan that allows you to get more meals per week. In short, you can never use more than 21 swipes a week. Additionally, you can never swipe twice for the same meal. If you wake up late on a Saturday and get breakfast at 11, you’ve technically just used your swipe for lunch and can’t eat again until dinnertime. Imagine if Tinder only let you swipe once during each mealtime. It’d be like real life, but worse!

You may be thinking that there are only three meals a day and seven days in a week, so why would you possibly need more than 21 swipes per week? If you’re thinking this, then I encourage you to leave your room at some point and check out the best thing the College has to offer: Snack Bar. Snack Bar provides a fourth option every day, and it is one of the most delightful experiences a student at the College will ever have. People bond at Snack Bar; people get engaged at Snack Bar; people eat at Snack Bar.

So now you see the dilemma. If I, a first-year on the 21-meal plan, want to be able to partake in the wondrous world of Snack Bar, I must sacrifice one of my other meals. Well, I can’t sacrifice breakfast, because it’s the most important meal of the day. I can’t sacrifice dinner, because it’s the second most important meal of the day. I can’t sacrifice lunch because I’m hungry.

Because of Snack Bar, students are forced to make unhealthy choices and skip important meals if they ever want to get married. (It’s an often-forgotten fact that 90 percent of all students at the College get engaged at Paresky between the hours of 9 p.m. and 1 a.m.) No vibrant young human being should be forced to choose between marriage and lunch. Luckily, there’s an easy solution to this: add an optional “Tinder meal plan” to the meal plan choices.

The Tinder meal plan would enable students to do just what Tinder does: It would allow unlimited swipes per week. This would not only be more convenient for many students, but it would also be healthier. It is generally recommended that people eat more frequent, smaller meals throughout the day rather than stuffing themselves at only a few meals. Our current meal plan encourages students to force themselves to eat more than their fill at each meal in order to make sure they won’t be hungry at other points in the day.

Along with the addition of the Tinder meal plan, the swipe system should be changed to allow students to use their swipes at any meal, just as Tinder allows users to swipe right at any time. These changes would be minor, but would make the dining experience much more akin to Tinder, which I think we can all agree would be a good thing.

Another important fact to consider is that it is unlikely that either of these changes would actually cost the dining halls. Students would likely eat the same amount of food; they’d just consume it at different times of day in order to better fit their own schedule.

If you need any more convincing, imagine using Tinder, but only being able to swipe right on 21 people per week. If you’re like me, you’ll only get a match about once a month. (I average .0117 matches per every right swipe.) With a restriction like this in place, Tinder would never be satisfying. However, with unlimited swipes on both Tinder and on the meal plan, everyone can be satisfied with both the number of “friends” they have and the food in their stomachs.  Occasionally, institutions need to take a step back and ask themselves: “What would Tinder do?” It is time for the College to answer that question and swipe right on these changes.

Ned Lauber ’18 is from Ithaca, N.Y. He lives in Armstrong.

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