More choice needed in meal plans

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February 26, 2010

12:03 AM

The dining facilities at the College of William and Mary always serve excellent food, and the workers are continually helpful and courteous. However, meal plan organization should be changed for the upcoming semester. Certain provisions will better serve, and — within reason — place students in a more favorable position in their relationship with dining facilities and the College as a whole.

First, Flex Points should be made optional. There seems to be little use for these extra dollars, and I often have a hard time using them up. Often, I find myself spending this money frivolously. I buy items I may not even necessarily want, just to ensure I don’t waste the money at the end of the year. Considering this money can only be spent on campus, Flex appears to have been designed solely for additional revenue — and then guised as a convenience to a student’s on-campus dining options. This does not serve the student in a positive way; Express and cash provide students with an ample supplement for buying food in locations other than the dining halls.

Second, the Gold Plans, which use a system of “meals per week,” should be changed. Surely freshmen, if no one else, would appreciate having more choice in their meal plan selections. These plans disadvantage students more generally, however. As with Flex, the College begins the semester with enough money to fund student meals for the entire semester. Why, then, is there a policy to break consumption of meals into week blocks that are not transferable between weeks?

How does this serve the student? For example, if an event is occurring, or if a student is traveling and must skip a meal one day, why should this meal be taken from him, considering it has already been paid for? This extreme inconvenience pressures students to build their schedules around consuming their meals with the fear that any missed meals will disappear and not be available after the week is up.

This system is not in the College’s best interest, assuming that student needs are the interest of the College. Even though the College offers Block Plans, freshmen are forced into buying meal plans they often do not desire. As college students, we are more than capable of rationing out our own meals.
The College should do away with weekly plans, and instead offer a greater degree of variety of block plans, including those without Flex. This allows the student who, for legitimate reasons, may skip a meal on campus during one week — or may be a little hungrier during another — to have an opportunity to consume all of the meals he or she has paid for well in advance.

I hope future meal plans can be better tailored to address the needs of students, with an understanding of their financial stake in the plan that they purchase.

E-mail Grant Skakun at [email protected]

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