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The Guerrero Salad Bar Theory

By Ryan Lavalley
On March 21, 2012

Recently a young, astute man who most of you may know - who also happens to be my roommate - brought a telling concept to my attention.
He described to me a conundrum of aesthetics vs. efficacy that arises on this campus quite often, epitomized by our very own salad bar in the Caf. Thus was born The Guerrero Salad Bar Theory.
For those of you who frequent the rabbit food trough in our cafeteria, you will most likely recognize the impracticality of our salad dispensary system. For those of you who pride yourself on maintaining a fair distance from the health nuts, I will provide a description. It is excessively chic for what amounts to nothing more than a bar of salad, with shiny décor and shimmering food containers. However, most impressive by far is the pristine, clear glass that hovers over the precious garden of vegetables, meant to prevent any contagions, bodily fluids or otherwise
disgusting substances our bodies create from adding any protein to our salads. But for this bar, its beauty is also its bane.
I ask you to please attempt to reach the lettuce, the most central ingredient to any salad. You will find the glass to be precisely at the level most convenient for one who wishes to gnaw upon said glass. For those of us who instead wish to gnaw upon salad, it seems our choices become either to forget the salad, losing the small satisfaction of thinking ourselves healthy people or to be forced to stick our heads and faces closer to the food than we would have had to in the first place in order to reach under the glass spray shield. Herein lies the foundation for The Guerrero Salad Bar Theory: aesthetics rule over and indeed often impede efficacy.
As we contemplated this theory, the "study" rooms in the Conaton Learning Commons were examples that emerged in our minds. The futuristic walls and abundant windows allow students to scribble their chemistry
notes to the warm glow of natural lighting. But don't be fooled: it seems aesthetics have again wrestled practicality into submission. The impracticality
of sound-permeable study rooms is masked by the sexy allure of whiteboard walls. Although in fact practical for writing, these same walls allow so much noise through that one can hear entire conversations from the next room over. If studying were the intended purpose of these rooms, one would think sound permeability
would have at least been mentioned at some point.
A graver example of this theory
is found in Xavier's endowment.
As one of the oldest Jesuit universities in the nation, it is astounding that we are 90 percent tuition based. With student tuition
and debt on the rise, how is it that our investments have been so poor that we resort to asking that alumni write us into their wills? Instead of increasing
our endowment
and allowing the University to educate its traditional population,
we build new buildings and increase enrollment
but continue to delay the much-needed renovation of a building like Alter and the reduction of student debt. The University privileges aesthetic appeal and whiteboard walls over long-term investment and a more affordable and accessible education.
There are many other examples: the disruption
of the 3rd floor of the library by CLC traffic,
double projector screens in classrooms or having police officers write hundreds of parking tickets on student cars before Cintas events, but I won't go into those. For me, the salad bar exemplifies the University's tendency to opt for glamour and short-term benefits over practicality and investment in student-oriented and long-term efficacy. It seems conspicuous
expenditure is trending at Xavier, seeking to improve the content of our tours rather than the practicality and effectiveness of our education. If we continue
to "improve" our campus with salad bars that won't let me get hygienic salad, then the student experience will continue to suffer under The Guerrero Salad Bar Theory.

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