As the world is gripped by the Covid-19 pandemic, schools, places of work, and day-to-day activities have had to adjust protocols and protect everyone from this deadly virus. Phillips Exeter Academy and its regular and summer sessions have had to deal with the crippling effects of this deadly pandemic. Through mask mandates, campus lockdowns, and countless Covid tests, the students have dealt with it all; however, a rather peculiar and engaging way that Exeter has chosen to combat the virus is through a meal system that has left some students distressed and annoyed. In contrast, other students have taken a liking to this new system.

This new controversial meal system allows students to eat the typical dining hall food all around campus, whether it be in their dorm or on the various benches around the beautiful Phillips Exeter campus. The food comes in either compostable packages or reusable Tupperware to limit the amount of waste created in a unique and unexplainable world disaster. At mealtimes, you can see hundreds of students enjoying their food on the beautiful lawns and under various tents set up throughout campus. It truly makes for an exciting way to eat that students here at Exeter Academy have grown accustomed to. 

Students here have very different opinions on this ‘grab-n-go’ system, however.

Zayne Gladeson, an Upper School student, is very fond of this new system. He explained that he feels safer outside and doesn’t feel like he has to worry about Covid. He also explained how beautiful Exeter’s campus is and that “being out in the beautiful nature, is beneficial and amazing.” Zayne eats his meals outside every day and enjoys being outside on such a beautiful campus in the beautiful New Hampshire weather. When asked if he believed that Exeter should adopt this system during a time without a global pandemic, he said, “100% yes, the benefits of being outdoors is much higher than being stuck in a clammy and packed cafeteria room.” Zayne is clearly very fond of this new system that Exeter has adopted.

However, many students question it and don’t believe that the new ‘grab-n-go’ model should be around for much longer. Ryuchi Niwa, an Upper School student, has different opinions than Zayne. Ryuchi believes that this new system is hurting Exeter more than it is benefiting. “The new meal system here at Exeter makes the campus look dirty and brings an unwelcoming feel to newcomers,” he stated. “It creates an anti-social environment and generates lots of trash which hurts the environment and is hypocritical to the environmental initiatives that Exeter is always stressing.” Ryuchi does agree that Exeter’s campus is beautiful and should be enjoyed; however, he does not believe that students and faculty should eat across it. “It builds a bad and dirty environment,” he explained, “I think that there should be a place to eat and a place to hang out and that the two should not overlap.” 

Despite the controversy surrounding the new meal system, because of Covid protocols, the system has to stay. Enjoying nature, eating outside, rain or shine, is something that the students here for the summer session at Phillips Exeter Academy will have to endure. Whether that is good as in the case of Zayne, or bad as in the case of Ryuchi, everyone will have to deal with it and decide for themselves if the new system for eating meals is beneficial, or not.