So we’ve been in the process of shaking things up here at LUISS. We’ve initiated a chain of events that led us to a series of email exchanges with various offices of the university that culminated in a meeting with the diritto allo studio himself.
Problem: It’s often impossible to eat at the mensa, there are too many people and of course everyone converges upon it during lunch time. It once got so bad that we had to leave campus just to find food— only to run into a professor facing a similar scavenging situation.
Solution: Open the mensa half an hour earlier— at 11:30am to be precise— so the surge of students can be alleviated into manageable proportions. A better solution, to open an even bigger mensa with two self-service queues, will be happening in September.
Problem: During the hunger games period, we tried to buy food from vending machines but discovered that everything is pork-based. I kid you not, it’s salami, prosciutto, crudo, you name it and it oinks. Even the snacks! (Pork-wrapped parmesan sticks, anyone?)
Solution: Put vegetarian and halal options in the vending machines. We asked, and within a week they installed delicious sandwiches like pesto-mozzarella and my all-time-favourite comfort sandwich, tuna-mayo. We were told that there were also chicken-mushroom and shrimp-in-pink-sauce sandwiches around, but we have yet to see them. We did see a potato sandwich last week though!
Problem: PhD students aren’t allowed to use the bike sharing facilities, so our only option is the LUISS shuttle which is always over capacity.
Solution: This was easy. Authorize us to use the bikes! It’s incredible that no one thought of it before.
Problem: The shuttles are always full! (And Italians don’t line up.)
Solution: Increase the frequency of shuttles during peak periods. They can’t do anything about the Italians.
And now, not only is the mensa working more fluidly— okay, there are still a lot of students, but before noon it’s a blissfully calm space— but the vending machines are now vegetarian-friendly, and Muslim-friendly, and Buddhist-friendly, and people who ride bikes can rent them and cycle between campuses in peace and those who can’t, can finally ride the shuttle. Again, is it possible that we were the only people to have thought of finding solutions to these issues? This seems incredible. Then again, there’s that quote attributed to Chesterton that’s pretty much “It isn’t that they can’t see the solution. It is that they can’t see the problem.”
Now that those issues are solved though, we move on to other matters such as not having a real university ID, not having any scanning possibility, and not having a printer. Can we do it in four months? Oh yes.