There’s nothing quite like sitting at the “Rott” as early morning light creeps in through those big bay windows, minutes before the afternoon luncheon rush. As I sit there, soaking in my surroundings, my eyes float upward from burgundy walls to mulberry rafters, past kiwi modern-chic photos and speckled greenish-yellow ceiling lights. Momentarily I am hypnotized by a strange fluorescent blue light that jags its way above spacious food counter-islands. I chew, enthralled.
Snapping out of it, I refocus my eyes on the food in front of me. It is strange, to say the least. Feta cheese tops my pile of green lettuce and couscous, and REAL mangoes exist in the salsa covering a piece of chicken that I scavenged from the “Fusion Grill” counter. Confused, I warily taste-test the black bean soup, and I am stunned by the presence of perceptible flavors beyond mere “saltiness.” What happened to the “Rott”?
My deductive reasoning skills kick in. The unfamiliarity of this place must have something to do with the new food service, AVI Fresh, that ousted Sodexo over the summer. Suddenly, “The Rott” is no longer what it once was! Its “‘Rott-ness” has been overtaken by an epidemic of “freshness” and colorful exuberance! A disturbing thought reaches my consciousness: the “Rott” is dead.
Call me nihilistic, but this place no longer adequately fulfills the endearing name of its historic legacy. The term “Rott” was first coined back in the days when the “Marriott” was GC’s food service provider. Ever since, GC’s beloved cafeteria has lived up to that nuanced label with determination. Both food and environment exuded a distinctly “Rott-esque” essence for years.
However, it all began slipping away last year as soon as GC warned Sodexo that it was exploring new possible catering services.
After that, the improvements came silently but steadily. By the end of last year, all GC students felt privileged with the installation of flavored coffee options and better food quality in general. Deep down, we knew we were being bribed by Sodexo, but we were so caught up in the excitement for the future that we failed to notice the Rott slipping away from us.
As I reflect on this reality, nostalgia for the “real” ‘Rott hits me hard. The days of tri-folds, oreo ice cream toppings, ecoli-spinach, scurvy jokes, orange-and-teal ceiling draperies, “Ice-Berry Blue,” and coffee infused with sleeping medication instead of caffeine are long gone. That dependable layer of grease covering everything from the pizza to the vegetables left as well.
Indeed, the Rott officially died one epic day this past summer when, according to a reliable witness, it took Physical Plant workers five rounds of power washing to fully extricate the layers of grease from the kitchen’s floor. This year, the new-and-improved cafeteria resembles something closer to a night club than a college eating place.
Referring to our cafeteria as “the ‘Rott” today seems like uttering a lie. The name no longer fits the food or the atmosphere. Its continued use disrespects the true Rott’s core values. Many students already acknowledge this quandary. Proposed alternatives like “The Galleria,” “The Gall,” or “The Fresh” are floating around student circles with valid apprehension. No one wants Goshen’s beloved eating place to stoop to a nickname as generic as EMU’s “The Caf.” Yet something must change.
The best proposed alternative that I have heard is “The Rage.” Beyond its clever alliteration, this name maintains plenty of nuance and personality true to GC. The mental images it sparks, including that of an 80’s disco club in Texas, fit the new fluorescent blue glow. Plus, the name gives CAC an ideal location to host “Rager” dance parties or hour afters. Just add a disco ball and strobe lights and “The Rage” would immediately live up to its ideal.
It is difficult to acknowledge that the era of the Rott has passed, but there remains great potential in this new place for future Goshen student adventures to thrive. From Rott to Rage, Goshen’s cafeteria remains sacred, beloved, and respectfully eccentric.
Arienne Johnson is a senior history and bible, religion, philosophy double major.