It’s several weeks into the semester, and frankly, I’m still not used to SuperBlanch. At first glance, SuperBlanch doesn’t seem terrible. It’s awesome that I’m able to make my own waffle and feel a sense of fulfillment at any point during my day. I love the Wok station since it helps me feel somewhat healthy after eating several syrup soaked waffles throughout the week. However, SuperBlanch is terrible for my anxiety. Here’s why SuperBlanch aggravates my anxiety, and here are some ways that these issues could be potentially fixed in the future.
On a good day, I can walk into SuperBlanch with ease. For those of you without anxiety or any similar form of mental illness, one way you can imagine having anxiety is a bit like having your own personal phone battery. When your phone is fully charged, you can text your friends, search the internet, watch cat videos, whatever you want, at high speed. However, over time, that battery starts to drain. The speed at which it drains depends on how frequently you use your phone and which apps you’re using. And once your battery is drained, your phone can’t really do anything. It just shuts down. My anxiety is similar to that. When I’m “fully charged,” going into SuperBlanch is really easy, even when it’s crowded. However, if I’ve had a busy day, I’m not feeling well, or I’m just feeling “off,” my battery gets drained and my ability to handle SuperBlanch drops considerably. Walking into SuperBlanch drains my mental battery considerably, and I don’t always have enough battery power for the task.
So why is SuperBlanch so draining for me? The first reason is pretty obvious: the crowding issue. There simply aren’t enough seats for everyone to sit comfortably in SuperBlanch. It isn’t quite so bad when eating alone, but having meals with a friend or two makes finding a seat even trickier during busy hours. However, since not all food options are available at all hours, it’s pretty difficult to simply try to avoid the crowds at quieter hours unless I want to choose from a limited selection of food.
Secondly, SuperBlanch is the embodiment of sensory overload. The lighting is unnatural. The stations that are next to each other are too close together with signs labelling the food being so tiny that you have to get up close to read them, causing the areas to get congested quickly. The addition of music on top of everyone’s talking makes it hard to hear when people are speaking to me. Plus the questionable design choices just make SuperBlanch a total eyesore. Overall, it is an attack on the senses that just increases my anxiety.
So how can we fix this? Since this is mostly a temporary issue because of the current construction, there really isn’t too much that we can do to “solve” the issue for now, but there are ways in which we can make SuperBlanch much easier to handle. First, I think they should reintroduce takeout. Sure, you can technically come in with some tupperware and take what you want, but having a dedicated “grab and go” option like at Kendade would be helpful. It would be really nice if sitting down to eat wasn’t seen as a requirement at SuperBlanch. Having a more streamlined takeout process would eliminate some of the congestion during more crowded hours since less people would stick around, and it would be less of a hassle for people who don’t really want to eat inside SuperBlanch.
Another method to improve the accessibility of SuperBlanch could possibly be the implementation of “quiet dining hours.” Due to the overcrowding issue, people who wouldn’t normally choose to sit in the Tranquility Area are often forced to. If instead we had “quiet dining hours” like we do quiet hours in the residence halls, SuperBlanch would seem much less stressful, even if quiet dining hours were limited to only a few hours scattered throughout the day where the music is turned down and the quiet rule within the Tranquility Area is more strictly enforced. Unfortunately, this wouldn’t bet a perfect solution since not everyone wants to sit quietly when they enjoy their meals and the Tranquility Area is unfortunately very small, however, it could be a start towards a solution.
Overall, SuperBlanch is incredibly flawed, especially when it comes to the comfort of people with anxiety and similar mental illnesses. Unfortunately, this is what we’re stuck with until the construction is complete but we can improve the conditions for everyone by being mindful of how loud we are in the Tranquility Area, making sure we aren’t overcrowding people during busy hours, and just doing our best to make sure everyone is as comfortable as possible while in SuperBlanch.
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