Prior to arriving at the University of Denver for my freshman year, I contacted the manager of the Nelson Hall dining hall (the dining hall that I would be eating most of my meals at) to set up a meeting in order to get an idea of what I'd be able to eat while at school. The manager, Gary, was very helpful and was more than willing than to work with me in order to help cater to my gluten free needs -- a promising start to my dining experience at college!
However, as the year went on and I became more conscious about my dining restrictions as a celiac, I started to notice some improvements that could be easily made at the dining hall, but no actions were being taken on these improvements (for example, a gluten free designated toaster is not in the works, as there are "not enough gluten free students to justify it." This type of attitude in the dining management is more than slightly disappointing.
The servers and cooks within the dining hall don't seem to be very aware of what is gluten free and what is not. There have been many cases when I will ask if something is gluten free and they will have to ask several people before being able to tell me that they are "pretty sure" that it's gluten free. "Pretty sure" isn't quite enough for a Celiac, which goes fairly unnoticed.
HOWEVER! All is not lost if you are gluten free at the University of Denver. They are slowly but surely working to integrate more allergy free, vegetarian, and vegan options into their food offerings. Since my arrival in 2010, they have expanded into having a fridge full of gluten free and dairy free goodies including bread, donuts, waffles, and pancakes. Of course, the waffles can't be toasted, and the bread can't be topped with the contaminated peanut butter but it's a start! They even have delicious g-free brownies once in a while which I appreciate, as I can rarely eat dessert in the dining halls.
At Nagel Hall (another dining location on campus), it is fairly safe for Celiacs to eat at the Rotisserie where they have lots of fresh salads, potato dishes, vegetable dishes, and fruit. You can get a meal to go, which is helpful for busy college students. The guys that work there are awesome and they are very helpful when I ask about the ingredients used or if something is gluten free. They are always in a good mood and will remember faces, so if you make friends with these guys, you can even request things like gluten free mac n cheese -- love it!
The freshman halls are equipped with a mini fridge and a microwave (no full kitchen), so I would recommend keeping things like fresh fruit and veggies, GF cereal, GF oatmeal, popcorn, etc. in your room for snacks. Otherwise, eating in the dining halls is fine: just plan on bringing your own salad dressing unless you are ok with using oil and lemon juice on your salads, and be prepared for there to be a few occasions where your options are very limited and other days where you can eat mostly everything. I am currently a sophomore on campus so I live in the Nelson Hall dorms where there are communal kitchens which I utilize often. I eat lunch and dinner a few times in the dining hall downstairs, and I get along pretty well! I would recommend getting the lowest meal plan and budget some funds for your own groceries. I like having the option to make my own meals to ensure a completely GF meal rather than having to worry about finding a decent meal downstairs.
The University of Denver is a fantastic school that I can't recommend enough to people. There is room for improvement within the dining system, but they are making an obvious effort to improve and I would guess that within the two years or so, it will be a great place for gluten free diners!