Crucial infrastructure requires repair

Defective vending machines restrict an essential service to hungry students


A poorly stocked vending machine located in Magnolia Residence Hall (Ryan King/Old Gold & Black)

Charlie Benedict, Business Manager

I feel like I ask very little of my housing accommodations. I don’t need mahogany drawers, a luxury mattress, or marble countertops to make it work. But one thing I expect – and I really don’t think this is an unreasonable expectation – is a functioning vending machine somewhere in the building that I reside. 

You see, the other inhabitants of Dogwood Residence Hall and I do not have access to a functioning vending machine. The one in the laundry room rejects all but the freshest and flattest bills, and when you finally find the goldilocks currency that depraved appliance will take, it swallows that up without dispensing the requisite snack. It works just well enough for you to think that the errors are an exception – but as a grizzled two-month veteran of Dogwood Residence Hall, I can confidently assert that they are the rule, not the exception. Personally, I have been swindled out of at least $4.50 and my friend Jake is out another $1.25. I’m am sure others in Dogwood have been similarly robbed of their hard-earned Washingtons. I’m baffled by the dichotomy between the machine not accepting money and being empty. I know for a fact that no one is reliably getting food out of this beast, yet I’ve never seen it with more than 4-5 snacks. The conclusion I gather from this is that the machine hasn’t worked for a while, and no one has fixed it.   

This is what drove me to send an email to the Office of Residence Life & Housing on September 20. In the email, I described the situation(s) that led to the me taking such a dramatic response, asked for someone to come out and look at it, and extrapolated on why I feel that having a vending machine is necessary. A day later Residence Life & Housing responded, informing me that they would have “someone out soon to correct the issue.” Well, it’s been a month, and aside from a couple gross power bars, the vending machine is virtually empty. Is the technician commuting by ferry from Myanmar? I’m almost a little worried that this hypothetical Burmese vending technician will open the machine and find evidence from an archaic murder case. 

“These crises could be averted if Residence Life & Housing could send someone to fix and maintain the machine.”

Normally, a single malfunctioning vending machine wouldn’t be the end of the world. I know from experience that the machine in the basement of Johnson last year was spotty at best – I simply eschewed it and patroned those with more reliable internals such as those in South and Babcock. But in the Covid-19 world, I can’t swipe into any other dorm to get my vending fix. Furthermore, all dining locations on campus are operating with reduced hours or occupancy. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to wait in line outside Subway at 2am because more than 10 people were inside, when all I wanted was a Fig Newton. These crises could be averted if Residence Life & Housing could send someone to fix and maintain the machine. I don’t feel that I’m being unreasonable in that request. I am trying to give the school my money. 

On the admittedly limited times that I find myself doing laundry, I feel my cold, calculating, rectangular metal enemy taunt me. As I stare deep into the abyss of my mortal enemy, its plexiglass shield simply reflects my beautiful face back, mocking me with a silent smugness. This column is an impassioned cry for help to all of those who claim to make Wake Forest a better place. Student Government, Residence Life & Housing, Hospitality & Auxiliary Services: do something. If I have ignited an intense desire for justice in you, or you simply want to call me a whiny loser, please follow me on Twitter (@CharlieBenedic1). Those of us who have fallen prey to the conniving innards of that wretched excuse of a machine deserve justice. We will not quiver in trepidation any longer. Fix our vending machines.