The Reopened Underground Lacks Quality Students Were Anticipating
By LINDLEY ESTES
Reopened to the University of Mary Washington community after closing for over two years for the renovation of Lee Hall, the Underground, once a staple of student life at the university, is experiencing a lackluster return.
Students believe that food prices are too high, and the service takes much too long.
“Eight dollars for lunch is ridiculous,” Sophomore Erin Kenderish said. “I’m a college student. I don’t have that kind of money to spend on a sandwich.”
The most popular sandwich, the Alvey, runs for $6.99 by itself, and is the most expensive sandwich on the menu. The least expensive sandwich is sold for $5.49. With two sides, they now come to two meal swipes, or around $8.
The Underground is now also accepting meals this semester in addition to Flex, EagleOne and cash. The lines are now too long for the staff to keep up with, and at lunchtime the Underground often runs out of sandwiches.
From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and during the dinner rush, lines will sometimes stretch all the way to the doors.
“I’ve had to wait a really long time,” Junior Catzby Pitzvada said. “But the food is really good, so I don’t mind so much.”
Pitzvada is glad the Underground is now using meals.
“I always have them left over, and now I can use them,” he said.
However, food service is not the Underground’s primary goal.
“The Underground was established as a programming space, which also included a food option,” Kori Dean, general manager of UMW Dining Services, said. “Therefore, while the food space does generate revenue, our ultimate goal for the space is to allow the food operation to break-even.”
Vegans and vegetarians are also less than happy with the food at the Underground.
“What bothers me is that most of the sandwiches are already made with cheese, so you can’t ask for a substitute,” Sophomore Sasha Clark said. “I think the Underground should provide soy cheese as an option for a sandwich topping. This would not only be great for vegans, but for people who are lactose intolerant.”
The salads that were recently taken off the menu due to lack of interest were also premade, each with meat.
Some students are completely satisfied with the food offered at the Underground and eat there often.
“They have the best food on campus,” Sophomore Ian Huff said.
Underground events range from Bingo Night to unknown musical acts like Rob Blackledge to comedians. Bingo has been the most popular event since the Underground reopened.
“I only go because of the prizes,” Junior Kyle Shearin said. “I think it’s that way with most people. I don’t really like the food there, so Bingo is the only real draw for me.”
On Tuesday nights beginning at 9 p.m. the Underground has open mic night, often hosted by Aubade, the campus literary magazine. However, Chelsea Newnam, a senior and editor-in-chief of Aubade, finds mixed results for attendance.
Giant Entertainment sponsors most of the events held in The Underground. They find that space is the main issue for The Underground, followed closely by sparse attendance.
“The shows are really hit or miss,” Sophomore Kelly Mirales said. “I think it depends on the day of the week and the name [of the performer]. Sometimes it’s a full house if we’ve done a really good job at getting the word out about an event, and other times it isn’t packed at all.”
Mirales said the Underground is the perfect setup for comedians, but less than perfect for musical acts.
While the Underground has a concept that college students want and is a definite asset to the UMW community, the recent operations leave more to be desired.