Saturday mornings are peaceful and beautiful times of solitude. There are fewer people in Andrew Commons than any other day, save for breakfast time on the weekdays, which are far too early for most people to attend, anyway. A steady and enjoyable meal is difficult to fit in before morning classes. On the other hand, if you are like me and you enjoy your Saturday morning brunch, Sunday can be a tad irritating. It is not that more students attend Sunday brunch, however, or that the food is of lower quality. No, the contrast between the two days starkly manifests in the inclusion of Appleton residents. Children, parents, the elderly, alumni, etc. in attendance create a claustrophobic atmosphere for already anxious students. Lines are longer, food is scarcer and premium dining tables are in higher demand.
This is not to say that there is anything particularly wrong with people from Appleton attending brunch at the Andrew Commons. The issue is that the quiet and peaceful mood of the weekend, our only respite from daily classes, is disrupted by the sudden influx of brunch-goers. If only the dining area were more expansive or at least had better acoustics. I think many Lawrentians would agree that a relaxing brunch is a better way to start the day. I have heard that, for Bon Appetit workers, the addition of children in Andrew Commons is especially stressful because they are prone to breaking dishes and generally causing a mess.
Despite the negative consequences, there are good reasons for this Appleton-Lawrence interaction via brunch. For example, Bon Appetit receives more money which results in more quality food, higher wages for chefs and students, etc. Moreover, the food provided by Bon Appetit is not always fully consumed and is eventually thrown out at the end of the night. Having more mouths to feed, therefore, means less food wasted. People from Appleton also have a chance to see and interact with the Lawrence campus and the student body.
Actually, I want to bring special attention to this idea. It is generally well known that most Lawrentians remain within a so-called “bubble,” separated from the culture and community within Appleton. We are already busy with homework, studying, employment, student organizations, friendships, recreation, etc. as it is. Most people simply do not have the time to experience Appleton beyond College Avenue or the YMCA. It only makes sense for Appleton residents to come to Lawrence to connect the two communities. However, a flaw in this system is that there is little interaction because everyone is too busy eating brunch.
If Lawrentians had the opportunity to converse with and play games with Appletonians, there would be a greater sense of community. Furthermore, if there were greater support for transportation into Appleton, it would lead to more Lawrentians getting out and experiencing the town. Perhaps there could be a student organization that manages Lawrence-Appleton events. I realize that it is already difficult to attend events at Lawrence with students’ busy schedules. Therefore, a shift toward the Appleton community on the part of other student organizations is a good idea as well.
Returning to brunch, there are solutions to the issue of a crowded dining area. For example, Bon Appetit could offer brunch in the Somerset room as opposed to allowing Appletonians into Andrew Commons. However, do we really want that? I suppose this is a question of ageism, and if Lawrentians want “those old people” infringing on their spaces. In film studies and queer theory, there is scholarly work by Kathryn Bond Stockton describing the “queer child”—a placeholder for people of “othered” identities—as treated like a threat when entering a home. I am not saying that Appletonians are marginalized people—most of them are privileged, middle-class cishet white people—but we must ask where the hostility toward outsiders stems from. Is it simply a defense of our brunch time, or is there more to it?
I am not here to provide any answers, only to ask questions. I think it is interesting for us to think about what it means for the Lawrentian and Appleton communities to be so violently separate from one another that the one time there is intersection it is met with hostility. Yeah, kids are messy and Appletonians could easily find some other brunch location like Angel’s Restaurant or the Queen Bee, for instance, but maybe Lawrence offers more than what can be found in a simple restaurant. I doubt it is the quality of food. Is it the view of the river? Perhaps it is the strong sense of community that Lawrence has that is such an attractive prospect for people. It is why I, and many students, came here after all.