Before arriving at Miami, I was nervous. I started watching “College Tips” videos by the thousands. Some talked about the right mattress topper to buy; others talked about different ways to meet new people. They all talked about the Freshman Fifteen.

Believe it or not, I had no idea what that was. After hearing hundreds of YouTubers telling me it was real and warning me to watch my figure, I Googled it. My eyes bugged out of my skull. I was going to gain fifteen pounds?

It couldn’t be real. I wouldn’t believe it. I had visited Miami over summer break, and the food had been terrible. I didn’t know how I was going to finish three meals a day, much less gain 15 pounds.

Once I actually moved onto campus, it was a different story. At first, I lost weight— five pounds, to be exact. And if you don’t think that’s a lot, just know that a pair of jeans that used to cling to my legs was now falling off my waist.

I attributed it to stress and hating the dining hall food. At home, everything is either handmade or from a specialty Russian store near us. There were no burgers, no fries, and definitely no chicken nuggets. Most of the food I ate growing up can’t be spelled in English.

I started looking for places to eat besides the dining hall and, lo and behold, there were so many options— Chipotle, Buffalo Wild Wings, McDonald’s. The possibilities were endless! I started skipping runs to the dining hall; there was no point if I had so much other food to eat.

The next time I Facetimed my parents, they asked if I had gained weight. They didn’t even need to see my body, just my face.

The Freshman 15 is real. And it’s all Miami’s fault.

Ever walk into a dining hall and notice how the fish looks like it’s been sitting there for a couple days? Or the vegetables? Or anything else not saturated in fat? Now, walk over to the fried foods line. Or the pasta and garlic bread line. Notice how that food always looks fresh? Like it’s just been made? That’s because Miami has more of it to make.

The fact of the matter is, processed foods (pizza, burgers, chicken nuggets, fries, etc.) cost way less to buy and preserve than any vegetable or fish. StraightHealth.com agrees with me and says, “…Big Macs or sodas cost ‘much less’ than fruits and vegetables. Comparing the cost of food using the price-calorie ratio ignores healthier food options [that] are generally lower in calories and higher in nutrients.

The mere act of having a “Healthy Food Day” at specific dining halls is a testament to the fact that everyday food being served at Miami is not, in fact, healthy.

While a burger from McDonald’s generally costs about $4.80, a sandwich from any deli in Ohio costs two dollars more, on average. Similarly, an apple can cost anywhere from one to two dollars while a soda costs 50 to 75 cents.

Let me explain a little something. Miami University is a college that enables higher learning, yes, but it is first and foremost an institution. Education doesn’t occupy the top slot on the priority list. That spot is reserved for budgeting.

Before you send in your transfer papers, just know it’s no different at any other college. Every college that you may go to knows that its financial pillars come from tuition. Well that and buying mass-processed foods instead of fresh produce.

The thing is, many people don’t like grease-flavored food, which leads to another phenomenon of college life: Miami is chasing its students right into the clutches of fast food enterprises.

Seriously. I bet, if the whole school gathered on the football field, we could get them to chant “B-Dubs” within a matter of seconds. And JoyRun, an app that allows you to order fast food from a number of restaurants at virtually any time, is a great way for students running the orders to make money. But it’s also a great way for the students ordering to get diabetes.

I respect my college for being fiscally responsible but when they start messing with the food that’s supposed to go into my body, that’s when I have a problem. We could cut budgeting for any number of things on campus: halting construction on one of the many new housing developments being built (today, a medium hall costs about $26 million to build, per the 2012 College Housing Annual Report) or holding off on re-paving the sidewalks for another year.

Personally, I think the health of my body and thousands of other young adults is more important than a crack in the sidewalk. But that’s just me.

anievtm@miamioh.edu

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