With my fists pumping in the air, I realized how my future suitemates and I just pulled off the unthinkable. Despite having the 28th pick in the housing lottery last year, we managed to wrangle the last available loft in Hill Court. This good fortune, mind you, was due to dumb luck. By tying the new meal plans to this variable process, Dining Services is wrongly investing itself with the ability to financially punish students because of this dumb luck.
The crucial part of the argument against this new plan is that it perverts the natural “circle of life” – the progression from freshman to senior – that has been the lynchpin of collegiate life. I was quite content with life as an underclassman, judiciously budgeting my Club Meals, dealing with freshman housing and having all of my female classmates absconded by upperclassmen. I knew that, in three years’ time, I would be freed from unusual and uncomfortable meal plans, living in a loft in Phase and having my pick of all the female underclassmen. Up until now, the current meal plan system has respected this pecking order and allowed seniors, who have jobs, interviews and access to cars, the ability to be more flexible in the plan they choose depending on how much they will be away from campus in a given semester. Similarly, the Office for Residential Life, intuitively enough, uses this concept when assigning lottery points, so that your class standing – more so than the luck of the draw – will determine where you live.
However, that isn’t to say that Lady Luck does not rear her head in the process. Seniors who want a kitchen in Phase or juniors and sophomores who want to live in Towers are all dependent on luck. Dining Services is poised to capitalize on these differences with its new pricing regime, so your lottery position may cause you to lose a significant amount of money in either unused Clubs or Clubs that are not used to their full monetary potential.
Ideally, Dining Services should make all of Hill Court eligible for the Platinum Declining Plan. Considering that the Chambers/Gale option is similar to the one currently available to the junior class, Dining Services can afford to make this change, as there are roughly the same amount of students in the junior class as those who live in Phase (conversely, their proposal sees a drop from nearly 1,000 students to less than 300 on this eligibility tier, a thinly-veiled money grab on Dining’s behalf). In addition to the availability of kitchens in a given residence area, an equally important redoubt to determine the use of Dining Services’s facilities – represented by the intended meal plan – is the residence area’s proximity to Dining locations. When I lived in Sue B. as a junior, I admittedly chose the 140 Club Meal Plan because of my proximity to Danforth.
Conversely, living away from Danforth as a senior, I would be wasting my money by choosing Club Meals again. Therefore, to clump Sue B. and Fairchild House in the same plan is a bit of a logical stretch. Moreover, food that students would be financially encouraged to buy from the Corner Store with this option – Hot Pockets and soup – hardly need an illegal, “ad hoc” kitchen facility.
Additionally, Dining could grandfather in all current students to the current scheme. Under the new schedule, the upperclassmen living in most of Phase and Towers will essentially compensate for the savings experienced by the new freshman class. The rising seniors have paid their dues under a pricing regime that, unless they consistently ate at Danforth and in certain combinations at Douglass, essentially set them up for financial defeat. Having already been severely limited as underclassmen, Dining Services owes it to these students to let them pick any meal plan as seniors.
However, Dining Services does not reserve the right to discriminate on the basis of where people live because, beyond a reasonable doubt, there is a significant element of luck in the process of choosing where someone lives. Unlike Blue Oyster Cult, the administrators of Dining Services do not deserve to call themselves Agents of Fortune.
Scott is a member of the class of 2008.