Last spring for our semesterly report card, we gave the Marketplace a B+ grade on the basis that the food options were exorbitantly expensive and relatively limited. Three months later, it’s refreshing to see positive changes taking place. The most promising development is the replacement of Café Spice with Moghul Cuisine, a Vestal-based restaurant located in University Plaza. Students are raving about Moghul, and with good reason. Bringing more local businesses to campus will provide students with necessary non-Sodexo options and put money back into the local economy.

Moghul, in stark comparison to Café Spice, offers a quality product worth the price. It was hard to justify spending more than $8 on a tasteless chicken masala and a couple of dried-out samosas. Now, we get real Indian cuisine that has become some of the best food in the Marketplace. We understand that SUNY tuition doesn’t provide for 24/7 five-star dining service, but for students stuck on campus, the occasional gastronomical delight is a morale booster. Even us college students deserve a nice meal once in a while.

The inclusion of more local options on campus will help foster relationships between students and the larger community. Students from outside the area often rely on the name recognition of chain restaurants and brands when making purchasing decisions. Sure, everyone knows Lost Dog Cafe, but getting dinner there during Family Weekend is far from being a full exploration of all that the Binghamton restaurant scene has to offer. When underclassmen transition to off-campus life, an established bond of trust will make them more likely to spend money at places like Moghul rather than an Outback Steakhouse or Cracker Barrel. Given the current state of the local economy, these fledgling businesses need all the endorsement they can get and that they deserve for offering superior products.

Imagine a Marketplace where students can choose from popular name brands such as Starbucks, and local favorites like Nirchi’s, Man Nam, and Maryams. Such an environment, more reflective of the world outside the BU bubble, significantly evens the playing field. And for all you big-business-loving capitalists out there: Students would spend more money (or BUC$) and feel better about doing so.

So, Sodexo, let’s have more of this. You’ve got the dining halls, let local eateries have the Marketplace. And if you’re looking to sample some of Binghamton’s finest cuisine, Restaurant Week is coming up. We want spiedies.