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The Daily Tar Heel

Hello, “Freshman Fifteen.”

I expected the scary professors, I was warned about the dorms, I was even mentally prepared to get lost. What I didn’t anticipate was all the free food.

Ice cream and hamburgers and candy and snow cones and french fries and Krispy Kreme doughnuts. God must be punishing me for all those times I didn’t share candy with my sister, because it just so happens that my first month ever in college coincides with Ramadan — which means no food or drink during the hot daylight hours for me.

I am obligated to politely refuse all of the free treats from clubs competing for attention, turn down all lunch invitations from my peers and whittle away the time I usually spend eating by wandering aimlessly around campus.

Some would call it torture. Others call it religion.

Ramadan is like Thanksgiving and Christmas — sans Santa Claus — rolled up into one: You are supposed to be nice, not naughty, when you’re starving and grateful when you’re not. Eventually, you lose your appetite — permanently.

So rather than being envious of all the well-fed bellies around me, I’ve started to become disgusted by the way we approach eating — here at UNC and in our lives more generally.

Don’t get me wrong, I love me some juicy burgers. But I don’t see why the only way I can meet someone is over food, which is what the general trend seems to be here.
Shoveling food in is a good way to cover up awkward pauses, and I can see how food makes a good conversation starter, but really, how close can you get with a plate in between you?

To all of the club leaders out there, I don’t know when this tradition started of luring freshmen in with bait before reeling them into commitments. But you should realize that most of us get so distracted by the food that we forget what the club is all about. And it’s pretty obvious when people are only coming for the free food.

Ultimately, by making food the standard at social occasions, we give it such importance that we don’t remember how to do without it.

I’m not saying give up food, I’m saying eat with a purpose — whether it be to fill your stomach (but not stuff it) or donate to a cause. The Med Deli fundraiser for Pakistani flood victims is today, for instance. Chapel Hill is certainly not lacking in opportunities to help out.

The next time you pick up your spork/knork/chopstick, try to think of a good reason for making your body digest the edible material in front of you. If you can’t, drop your utensils fast — I guarantee this will keep off that college fat.

I’m loath to be preachy, but boy, is our world having problems nowadays. It’s ripe time for us to transcend our visceral cravings in search of a healthier and more world-conscious means to satisfaction and self-fulfillment. And let’s face it: Buddha’s the only guy who can pull off the chubby look.

Saffa Khan is the Freshmen Columnist for The Daily Tar Heel. She is a freshman from Chapel Hill. Email her at

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