Walking into Val for the first time since my arrival on campus, I immediately questioned whether or not I was in the right building. Was I dreaming? Surely this couldn’t be the Valentine Dining Hall of yesteryear: where was the tacky carpet? The sweaty clump of sports teams who just got out of practice? Perhaps somebody had spiked the coffee with some sort of psycho-hallucinogenic drug concoction?
By the time Val’s Iron Chef competition rolls around for the fifth time next year, a new team of cooks will be crowned champions. Obvious as that may seem, it has been anything but a guarantee for the competition’s first four years — the same team, albeit with some slightly different members, has won each year it’s been held.
Thanks to the ambitious dreams of many, Amherst College has transformed itself from a “WASP-y,” all-male, New England college into a diverse, multi-ethnic learning community. These changes did not come easily or quickly, but came on the backs of individuals tirelessly working to further those noble goals. Our school is a place where, I hope, people of every creed, color or class can feel comfortable to grow and explore. Moreover, students are given incredible opportunities to not only retain their identity, but to share their unique backgrounds with others.
There are precious few College students who have not complained about the long lines at Valentine Dining Hall during lunch hours, and many are those who have opted for the Lighter Side Chicken to avoid waiting through another 6:00 p.m. traffic jam. The good news for such students, however, is that Val has been listening — and with student concerns and suggestions in mind, the dining hall underwent a series of renovations designed to address those notorious jams.