Jury’s out on Mackin: bad decor doesn’t salvage good food

To the unassuming passerby, the Mackin Complex may look like just another residential building. However, it is also home to the Mackin Dining Hall. Having eaten there for my first time last Tuesday, I felt the need to share my experience with those who have never been, highlighting what I believed to be the pros and cons.

I’ll start things off by saying that Mackin is definitely the most unique of the dining halls, in that it uses an entirely different payment system. Instead of the buffet style featured in the other halls, Mackin requires that you place an order like a fast food restaurant. At Mackin, students with a full meal plan are given $6.80 to order whatever they want from the menu, either for there or to go. This is nice because Mackin boasts an impressive selection of food to choose from, ranging from grilled and fried foods to freshly made pasta and salads. Additionally, the desserts, snacks and drinks are more numerous and diverse than those you would find elsewhere on campus.

The nice thing about Mackin’s menu is that it you can order the same thing pretty much every day, that it is open, with the exception of the weekly specials. The problem with Mackin, however, is that everything comes with a price tag attached to it, making it a bit tricky when you order. Because you only have a limited budget, if you want a full meal you might have to skip out on dessert, or vice-versa. If you find that you’ve gone over the limit you’ll either have to put something back or have the remaining cost deducted from your Plus Plan. Also, there are no free refills, which poses a serious problem.

Setting aside Mackin’s rather complicated payment plan, let’s move on to the building itself. Located beneath the Mackin Complex, the dining hall could definitely use a make over. The first thing that really bugged me about Mackin was the view. As opposed to looking out onto the lake, or at the lagoon, the windows in Mackin face the electricity plant and a parking lot, greatly detracting from the ambiance. The hall looks and feels rather old, with sparse decorations and shabby furniture and chairs. The facility is also comparatively smaller than the others and on a busy day you might find yourself with no place to sit. This problem is in no way alleviated by the inclusion of some lounge furniture off to the side that looks out of place and without a purpose.

In addition to the shortcomings mentioned above, Mackin is rather inaccessible. For those living in new campus dorms, old campus dorms, and lakeside dorms, getting to Mackin is quite a hike. The dining halls hours are nothing to brag about either; Mackin is only open Monday through Thursday from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. This makes it inconvenient for students living in that part of campus who want to eat breakfast, or seven days a week.

With its poor location, cumbersome payment system, limited hours and an atmosphere that makes it feel like a geriatric home minus Matlock, Mackin scrapes by with a 1.2 out of 5 in my grade book.