Choking on the meal plan facts
February 7, 2011
I don’t have a meal plan, and I cook for myself. I don’t really like the food offered in the dining halls around campus, but in a Jan. 31 article about meal plan policies (“New meal plan policy in bad taste”), Tessa Raebeck talks about a new policy that was implemented by food services without informing students. She claims that Aramark, the company that runs the dining halls on campus, eliminated students’s ability to swipe in other people using their block meal plans without notifying anyone. This is wrong. The cafeterias never had a policy allowing students to use their block meal plans to swipe in other students; rather, the policy has always been that students are not allowed to swipe in other students. The reason for the perception of this policy undergoing a change is because of the negligence of the cashiers working at the cafeterias. This sudden change is not simply a way to make more money as claimed in the article.
An argument that always comes up with block meal plans is that if the student pays for it then the student should have control over all of his or her meals. This is a valid point and makes logical sense. The reason dining services does not have this mentality is not because of different views on meals but actually because of federal law. The meal plans offered at the College of William and Mary are tax-exempt because this law mandates that the meals be used solely on an individual basis. It seems counter intuitive that if you buy something you do not have carte blanche on what you can do with this purchase, but that is just the way this situation works out.
There have been a lot of questions posed to dining services about this exact situation and the policies regarding swiping in other students with a block meal plan. Dining services has realized this and devised a plan to solve the problem. Beginning next year when you purchase a block meal plan you will have a certain amount of meals in your block designated as guest meals. For example, if you buy a 125 block meal plan, 25 meals in that block meal plan will be designated as possible guest meal passes.
While I have already stated that I am not a fan of the food offered at dining services, it is wrong to accuse dining services of changing policies without informing students before you know the facts of a situation.