New Sophie’s Quick Mart Disappoints Students

By Amy Rudolph
Web Editor

As a creature of habit I do almost the same things every day. Last year, I would go to Sophie’s Café in the library every morning. I liked their baked goods and I would usually get a chocolate chip muffin and a Diet Coke for breakfast.

As I begin my junior year, I find myself longing for the days of Sophie’s Café.

As a student member of the Food Committee, I was initially excited for the new Sophie’s mini mart idea, but as it has come to fruition, I’m not pleased. Washington College said that the idea of the mini mart was to have it operate 24-hours a day, seven days a week,which is great for busy student schedules. That didn’t happen. The hours of the mart are now just library hours, which are an improvement, but are still not enough. When I’m craving snacks after 8 p.m. on the weekends when the library is closed, I have to go all the way to Walgreens.

Sophie’s Cafe transformed into a convenience store-style Quick Mart with limited service.
Sophie’s Cafe transformed into a convenience store-style Quick Mart with limited service.

The purchasing options have increased, but they still seem very halfway-there to me. When I go into a convenience store, I want to see the opulence of brand upon brand of salty, sweet, downright fattening deliciousness. The mini mart is just too mini for me.

Money from student tuition and bills goes to a lot of different functions, including dining services. As consumers paying for this service, I think students should have been a lot more up front with what we wanted when the idea for the mini mart was originally proposed. Student voices are best heard through avenues such as the Food Committee. The Food Committee exists solely for students to say how they feel about dining services. If more people participated in these meetings, we may not be in the situation where many students do not like the changes being made.

Word around here travels fast, so when people didn’t like the idea for the mini mart, they should have done something about it. As a complainer, I know the right format to complain. That’s why I joined the Food Committee in the first place.

At the student Food Committee meeting last April, we were asked a simple question: Coke or Pepsi. For me the answer is simple; Coke. To answer the age-old question of waitresses: no, Pepsi is not ok. In changing Sophie’s Café, some products were cut or reduced. Sophie’s used to serve all Coke products, but after the switch to Pepsi, only one shelf of the cooler stocks Coke.

Some students, such as sophomore Jackie Dulaff and myself, are mainly sticking with the minimart because of its supply of Diet Coke.

Dulaff said, “I had three things on my final College checklist and they were: Greek life, A/C in the dorms, and Diet Coke. Now that we’ve switched to Pepsi, I feel like one of the things I was promised was just taken away without any consultation.”

Part of the new model is an automated system, which is easy to use and more efficient. It cuts down on the long morning wait times, but others that I spoke with do not feel that it is effective.

Sophomore Paris Mercier, a student worker in the library, said that many students don’t know how to use it.

“As library [circulation] desk workers, we are not supposed to help students in the mart. We are supposed to refer them to dining services, but this gets kind of shaky as dining services isn’t there at 2 a.m. They don’t really have a system that I think works yet.”

Of 60 students surveyed, 53 said that they did not like the new Sophie’s Café, and seven people said they were fine with it, mainly because it has Starbucks coffee. Other students who had yet to use it said their hesitation was mainly due to the fact that the system does not take dining dollars.

Of the students that I surveyed, only two said that they had a preference between Coke and Pepsi and that they would always choose Coke. Those with “no” preferences said that they would choose Coke over Pepsi if given the opportunity. With what used to be such a divisive question, I expected much more love on the pro-Coke side. I guess Jackie and I will have to head the fight for more Coke products or just run the Eastern Shore dry.

While I am not entirely pleased with the changes to Sophie’s Café, I appreciate that WC even has this as an option. Late night study sessions just got a whole lot sweeter, but that comes at a price I’m not sure I want to pay. If the quirks of the new Sophie’s were ironed out and dining dollars could be used there, I would feel a lot better about it and give it a more positive review.

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