As students spend more and more time here at the College of William and Mary, they spend less and less time in the dining halls. They choose different meal plans that provide less meal swipes and more Dining Dollars, which become available to upperclassmen students. Dining Dollars can be used at places like Swemromas, Chick-fil-A, Domino’s, Qdoba and the Student Exchange.
Each semester, freshmen can choose from the Freedom plan (unlimited meal swipes and $100 in Dining Dollars), the Gold 19 (19 meal swipes per week and $225 in Dining Dollars) and the Block 175 (175 meal swipes per semester and $400 in Dining Dollars).
As upperclassmen, students can choose from other block plans that offer more Dining Dollars and fewer meal swipes. Because of this, Dining Dollars are perceived as a luxury. However, I am here to present the opposing perspective: Dining Dollars are not as valuable as so many students are led to believe.
Although the dining halls do not exactly have the best food, there are always a lot of different options that include various fruits, vegetables and proteins. Obviously, there are some constants (for example, sandwiches) but a lot of the other stations at the dining halls rotate so students do not get bored and can have different types of food.
Dining Dollars, however, do not provide a lot of food options. Qdoba always has the same three types of Mexican food, Chick-fil-A always has fried chicken, Domino’s always has pizza, and the list continues. Not only is there little variation in these food options, but they also provide little nutrition. Even though Dining Dollars seem to be most desired by students, meal swipes are much more practical.
I have friends who switched from the Gold 19 meal plan to the Block 175, and now they must calculate when they can go to the dining halls with everyone else. The Block 175 only allows one to two swipes per day on average, and the other block meal plans for upperclassmen allow even less.
To me, it’s more stress than it’s worth to have to calculate whether they have enough swipes to eat somewhere. The Gold 19 plan may supply less Dining Dollars, but students do not have to think twice before swiping into a dining hall and grabbing a meal. Although those with Dining Dollar-heavy plans are enjoying being able to buy more coffee and exciting food, they also must plan out when to eat and how they will be able to get their daily allotment of vitamins and fruits and vegetables from their food.
I would much rather sacrifice a little bit of quality in order to eat freely around campus, as well as join my friends on trips to the dining halls whenever I want. While the Gold 19 has a good combination of meal swipes and Dining Dollars, the other plans are too heavily weighted with Dining Dollars to be sustainable.
Email Alyssa Slovin at firstname.lastname@example.org.