My first semester of college, I enrolled in the standard Gold 19 meal plan at the College. Each week, I failed to meet the quota of 19 meal swipes, and my leftover swipes (worth $7 or $8 each) would disappear. For that reason, I switched over to the Block 175 meal plan, which offers the least meal swipes of the three plans available for underclassmen living on campus.
These past couple of semesters, I still have not been able to use the full 175 meal swipes in a semester. If it were my choice — as an individual who should be able to decide what, when and how often I eat — I’d opt for a different meal plan, or maybe none at all. But since I live on campus, I am required to continue on Block 175 despite its inconsistencies with my lifestyle.
By failing to use a full 175 meal swipes a semester, I’m being forced to wash hundreds of dollars down the drain — in my case, after adding it all up, over $1,000 per academic year.
Last semester, I tried to petition my meal plan and request a smaller one. I proved how many extra meal swipes I had and how much money that was costing me, but my petition was denied because it didn’t show “outstanding reason.”
I think $1,000 per year is outstanding. It’s unacceptable for the College to dictate my lifestyle by guilting me into eating more of its mediocre food just to get my money’s worth out of an obligatory meal plan. Personally, I’m solving this issue by moving off campus next semester primarily so that I can control what I eat.
But not every student at the College has that option. In fact, even less students have it this year than did last year. The College informed us last year that its new program obligates sophomores, as well as freshmen, to live on campus. So why is the College making these decisions to force its meal plans on students?
It seems obvious to me: money. By making me pay for a meal plan, the College is cashing in on an extra few hundred dollars that are probably subsidizing someone else’s food, so I’m using my money to pay for a student who eats more than me in the buffet-style dining halls.
The College needs to use force to make enough money off of its dining facilities because the quality of their food is not up to par.
If the College were to allow students to make other decisions, it would be at the loss of our dining facilities. The solution to this problem is not to force students to eat in the dining halls by requiring them to pay for a meal plan. Instead, the College should put substantial effort into upgrading Dining Services so that their food and convenience is worth choosing over other alternatives. At the very least, the College should expand the range of options so that we can use our meal swipes at other locations, similar to what they’ve done with Tribe Truck.
But the fact remains: college students are adults. We can and should choose the amount and frequency of our meals, and the meal plan policies at the College need to reflect that.
We’re all already paying enough to attend the College without being forced to pay extra for other people’s food. The College should be improving its services so that they are more convenient and appealing to students rather than depriving students of money and choice.
Email Chloe Folmar at
[…] article was originally published in The Flat Hat, the official newspaper of the College of William & […]