There is a serious problem that has been plaguing UCSB freshmen for months and it’s simply become too harmful to ignore. Yes, I’m talking about Ortega Dining Commons. Hundreds of on-campus residents have to deal with Ortega on a daily basis. Residents of several UCSB dorms are actually forced to pay for a meal plan for Ortega, giving the dining commons a nice little monopoly. This monopoly has allowed them to serve mediocre food and to introduce increasingly ridiculous policies. If you doubt that freshmen are dissatisfied with Ortega, then look no further than the mass exodus of residents who flock to Carrillo Dining Commons on weekends, when they are actually given a choice as to where they can eat.

Bad food is only the tip of the iceberg with Ortega. While many of Ortega’s customers feel the food is sub-par, most have learned to accept eating cereal for dinner rather than potato-beef barf or whatever else happens to be on the hot menu.

The food is offensive, but it’s the policies that have been angering Ortega’s victims lately. Some management goon for the commons decided that it would be a good idea to limit the amount of certain popular items that students can get from the hot line. I usually want two grilled cheese sandwiches and I know I’ll eat them. But when I go up the line and ask for two, I hear, “Sorry, I can only give you one.” I don’t overpay for terrible food so that I constantly have to go back to the line to get the food that I am entitled to.

Now you may think that such food limits are not justification for whining, but there’s much more to it than that. For starters, Ortega had a popular burrito bar for most of the first quarter. Students were allowed to make their own burritos or nachos. Well, I guess Ortega was shocked that people actually began to eat the food because they quickly pulled the plug on that idea – probably because it wasn’t profitable enough. Just recently they seem to have done the same with the sandwich bar during the lunch meal.

Finally, students pay for a certain number of meals per week, but what if a student misses a meal? Forget it, they don’t get to use that meal. So if you pay for 19 meals a week but happen to miss a few breakfasts, then you’re out of luck. Even if you didn’t use the meals you paid for, you can’t make them up.

Now, what’s the point of this rant? Many people are tired of Ortega, and it is not too late to do something about it. I encourage all dissatisfied customers to voice their complaints via letters to the school and to Ortega. Also, tell your parents to do the same because they don’t shell out the money so that you become malnourished.

Finally, if you are an Ortega victim, I encourage you to waste as much of their food as possible and to leave your tray on your table. This may sound immature, but if we can inflict serious financial damage on Ortega then they will certainly have to shut down or change their bogus ways. Competition is what breeds a great product, and Ortega’s monopoly over UCSB residents must be abolished.

Nick Pasto is a freshman biology major.