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Malott Maze Leaves Students With Eating Disorders Feeling Lost

Beth Gardner ’25
Guest Writer

Content warning: discussion of disordered eating.

I will begin by admitting that I stole the phrasing of “Malott Maze” from my friend Nina Howe-Goldstein ’25 who uses the term in her satire column in this very issue. Nina isn’t wrong (she never is). Following the spike in COVID-19 cases, Malott has transformed into a one-way barren landscape of chairiers (chair barriers). The sudden change begs the question: where were all these chairs hiding when CMC basketball bros were infiltrating our dining hall (and how are they SO tall)?

However, Dean di Bartolo-Beckman’s April 6 email regarding COVID-19 spike-induced changes had unintended consequences. The following meal period, I walked into Malott with my roommate as I normally do, and was handed a singular paper box. Odd, but it has to be a starter box, right? Surely, there are more boxes. During free reign to-go dining, everyone was leaving with at least two boxes. Then, when I asked for a second quesadilla at the grill, my request was denied.

I felt a panic in my chest that I had somehow been able to avoid thus far in my college career. A feeling that this was my last meal, so I should cram as many calories into this flimsy paper box as possible. It’s a feeling every person with an eating disorder knows: lack of control. I proceeded to stuff half a pizza on top of my quesadilla. That night, I ate all of it, despite my stomach telling me I was full.

Once outside, I began to complain to my roommate about the interaction. “How does giving me a second quesadilla give me COVID-19?” A girl (who I did not know) overheard and offered me hers, stating that she didn’t realize it had meat in it. I took it. A second quesadilla from Malott won’t give me COVID-19. You know what will? Accepting a quesadilla from a stranger because policy has sent me into a spiral.

The force at play here is The Restrict-Binge Cycle. Quickly summarized: restriction causes a person to crave foods (often because they aren’t eating enough), this craving inspires anxiety about eating (since they are trying to restrict), anxiety is calmed by emotional eating (frequently in the form of binging), and binging is followed by a state of shame that causes a person to want to restrict again.

Given our usual dining setup, I’ve found I don’t binge when I’m at college. In fact, I’m eating smaller meals than I ever have. I know there’s more if I want it. I know it’ll be there next week if I’m too full to eat any more. I can dedicate a box to salad, a box to chicken, a box to pasta, and nothing has to touch (the ableism involved in neglecting to accommodate for sensory issues is another article). Now you get one box, and you are not allowed to re-enter after you have gotten your food.

I get why they’re doing it. In a TSV article last semester, Malott was the only dining hall not offering reusable dining ware (challenging “5C sustainability efforts,” per the title of the September article). The one-box policy is a result of Malott trying to reduce its environmental impact.

I’ve found a solution, but it comes at a price (literally). You can purchase a second meal ticket for the food trucks with flex, but it will cost you $7. Listening to your body now comes with a sticker price, and for those who don’t have the flex to burn, it creates equity issues. Students may be on smaller meal plans (therefore less flex included in the plan) to save money to pay for college. This puts students in the position to have to choose between their health and financial stability. This is a choice no human should have to make (and yet people do, both inside and outside our expensive white walls).

So, some words for Dean di Bartolo-Beckman: if you are going to charge $78,274 for the luxury of going to Scripps College, try not to start another health crisis by denying people the right to eat intuitively (wait, why does that sound so familiar?).

Image Source: Scripps College via email to student body about intuitive eating event

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