Freshman Hallie Mayers thought she had found a new friend on campus.
“His name was Max and he was just the nicest guy,” Mayers recalls. “Funny, smart, a good listener, the whole package. The thing is he only texts me around noontime and 5:30 on weekdays. He must be really busy.”
Max Jones, the junior in question, says that the timing is no accident.
“It’s all about getting those 15 swipes,” said Jones.
Starting at the onset of junior year, Marquette students no longer have automatic access to the dining halls. This forces juniors and seniors to confront a dilemma: fast until Thanksgiving, or join the rest of the adult world in achieving basic levels of cooking competence. Most students find both options too physically taxing, which has led to the rise of an alternative.
People who are still on the meal plan have the ability to give away 15 “guest swipes” to those not registered for a plan. This has driven many upperclassmen to strategically be nice to freshmen and sophomores in exchange for their swipes.
“I started doing it after spring break last year,” Senior Ben Dyson said. “After I bugged about 60 people into telling me their class schedules, I charted out which ones would be free to give me a swipe on each day of the week. After that, it was just a matter of putting on the charm.”
Underclassmen like Patricia Solomon felt the impact of this charm offensive for most of last year’s final month. According to Solomon, matriculating juniors that had only met her once were suddenly calling her and attempting to have deep conversations. Some even resorted to bribery, offering money, booze, and even firstborn sons for the 15 meal swipes.
“It became a lot to handle,” Solomon said. “Ultimately, I just made a list of all the people vying for my swipes, then eliminated them one by one like a ‘Bachelor’ episode.”
The competition for meal swipes can get downright hellacious between those who started the friend-making process late, like Jones. With all of the sophomores’ swipes claimed, Jones is forced to be kind and amicable toward freshmen.
“I can barely tolerate acquaintances on a good day, and now I have to pretend to be interested in Hallie’s roommate problems,” Jones says. “If I have to hear about how long Tracey takes to shower in the morning one more time, I’m going to slam my face into these reheated mashed potatoes.”