Ranked best at lagging behind?

Selena McPherson / The News

The staff editorial is the majority opinion of The Murray State News Editorial Board.

Selena McPherson / The News

Selena McPherson / The News

It’s no secret that Murray State is the epicenter of glamour, wealth and sophistication – if our sparkling, state-of-the-art architecture doesn’t draw students, it’s our gourmet dining.

Murray State’s dining was recently ranked the top program in Kentucky through Niche rankings. You thought Winslow Dining Hall  or Fast Track had room for improvement? Nope, not here – our Boom Boom Burgers and Pizza Casseroles are the finest Kentucky can buy. That’s #OpportunityAfforded, y’all.

All jokes aside, we are proud of our university for garnering such a high ranking. The food really isn’t that bad every once in a while, and the chefs definitely try to spice things up and offer diverse meals sometimes.

With the Pony Express always searching for new ways to experiment with classic eats – not to mention students having several locations to spend their Flex fortunes – our dining has become more innovative and is undoubtedly one of the most convenient set ups.

Did we really beat out every other university in the state of Kentucky, though? Forgive us for doubting, but something smells a bit fishy.

In gathering data, the Niche crew based their rankings on student satisfaction surveys and financial value. Every university dining hall is guaranteed to be fairly similar, but there’s one pretty big factor these rankings fail to mention. And – spoiler alert – it kind of dulls the shine of our award.

Larger, urban universities like the University of Louisville and the University of Kentucky have traditional dining halls, too, but they also have many corporate dining options we don’t have. We’re talking Panda Express, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, etc. – established chain restaurants that students can use their “flex” or meal plan for.

While those greasy fast food options aren’t any healthier than traditional dining food, they’re certainly more appealing to the majority of students. So, at a school like the University of Louisville where many of these options exist alongside the freshman-centered dining hall, are their numbers going to reflect well on that dining hall?

If you guessed, “of course not,” you get a gold star.

It’s not that Winslow Dining Hall is of a drastically higher quality than other dining halls, then, but it’s one of the only options for a majority of our students. Considering how many of our freshmen and sophomores live on campus and use required meal plans, it makes sense that our rating for our dining hall would be higher. Without the bait of a flex-friendly McDonald’s, Winslow starts to sound pretty delicious on a groggy Sunday afternoon.

We’re not out to break the hearts of die-hard Winslow fans or employees of Murray State Dining and Hospitality. We think our folks do a fine job considering our resources and funds, and we’re in love with the Pony Express’s presence on Twitter. In fact, let’s take a moment to shout out our pure adoration for the Pony – those 9 p.m. visits to Wilson Hall while we’re assembling the newspaper are golden and so, so appreciated.

That being said, it wouldn’t hurt if Murray State followed in the footsteps of other Kentucky universities and decided to implement branded restaurants. It could potentially attract more students, increase desires for upperclassmen to buy meal plans and create more student jobs.

For now, though, we’ll be patiently awaiting the Arby’s/Rally’s combo while we enjoy our Faculty Flatbreads and Rogue Pogue wraps.