OPINION: Cleveland State University is conditioning its students into an unhealthy lifestyle

With CSU 2.0, the current executive board is planning on making Cleveland State a dorm-based campus. They have already purchased The Langston and The Edge, and they are going to require those students to have a meal pass even though they have a full kitchen in their apartment. They also have been adding unhealthy fast food restaurants into their agenda, like Chick-Fil-A and Starbucks. Cleveland State is fully aware of the additives and seed oils included in every restaurant on and around campus, so why are they pushing for more?

The dining hall does not mainly serve healthy options either. Their menu constantly includes pizza, burgers, pasta, and desserts. Although those foods are okay to enjoy every once in a while, they aren’t supposed to be consumed on a daily basis. Even though they include a salad bar, not many students have the discipline to eat a salad every day, and the dining hall needs variety when it comes to truly healthy options. The mandatory dining pass forces students to eat this unhealthy food, and then they become used to the ease of having something provided to them instead of buying healthy groceries and cooking on their own. I believe that living on campus, especially in an apartment, should be a learning experience for how you would live in a house or an off-campus apartment. When you hand students everything regarding food, they become trained to rely on that instant gratification, which can push those unhealthy eating habits out every day well into the rest of their lives. 

The same can be said about fast food in general at Cleveland State. There are dozens of fast food options on or near campus that are easily accessible to students. As this university is mainly a commuter campus, many students rely on these restaurants for breakfast or lunch. As mentioned earlier, the occasional indulgence in fast food is not going to harm you, but turning it into a daily or even weekly routine is enough to cause many health issues down the line. Outside of Greens and Go, Downtown Nutrition, and maybe Pulp, there are not many truly healthy options on campus. The only place that I have found to be relatively good for you is The Fruit Stand, located near Playhouse Square. 

From what I have noticed, the foods offered in the dining hall, at fast food restaurants, and in convenience stores are filled with seed oils, preservatives, and saturated fats. Although this is not particularly CSU’s fault in regards to what the restaurants provide, their ignorance to highlight the health risks that this diet has is not any better on their part. Many doctors and researchers believe that by 2030, 49.2% of Americans will have a body mass index (BMI) of over 30 – aka obesity. To put this into perspective, 41.9% of the population was obese in 2020 and 30.5% in 2000, showing a rapid incline in obesity in the country. Cleveland State does encourage students to move and exercise more by having signs around campus like “push yourself, not the button.” Still, studies have shown that exercise only contributes to 20% of weight loss, and it is mainly used to help prolong your health and mobility. It is a little redundant in my opinion to have these signs around each elevator when there are no healthy options when it comes to food around campus. Taking that flight of stairs instead of taking the elevator isn’t going to cancel out the burger that you have from Grilleworks later. 

So how do we fix this? Cleveland State can do many things to help fight this fast food epidemic in America, and the first thing they can do is make dining passes optional for students that live in on-campus apartments. There is no point in charging students for their full-size kitchen as well as for a dining pass. The Student Government Association (SGA) is working on a resolution that will encourage CSU’s faculty to consider making the dining passes optional and it will be voted on by the Senate on either on April 21 or May 5, 2023.  The university can also provide more microwaves around campus for commuter students so they do not have to rely on the options on campus. Providing healthier food at events could also be a step in the right direction. Although Rascal House and Cafe Ah-Roma aren’t the healthiest catering options, providing a fruit salad or a salad bar would help those that are conscious about their health. Lastly, they can provide other healthy options other than salads and yogurt in the convenience stores. I also believe they should lower the prices of the healthier food options they provide in the convenience stores. There is no reason a salad should cost $7-$9 compared to a $3 bag of chips. 

If Cleveland State keeps pushing students to eat unhealthy daily, they will be contributing to that 49.2% obesity rate in 2030. It is crucial that students that live on campus anywhere should learn how to cook for themselves. CSU shouldn’t be taking that learning experience away so they can make money. Starting with small steps, like offering more microwaves on campus or other healthy alternatives in the convenience stores, they can help their future alumni be healthy and have a longer life. If you are interested in being a part of change on campus, consider joining Student Government Association so you can be a part of the change you want to see on campus. 

*This is in no way shaming those who are obese due to medical reasons. I am just pointing out the consequences of a fast food diet* 

Disclaimer: This article in no way reflects the views of The Cauldron and its staff. It only reflects the views of the columnist.