Despite vocal opposition, including a student-led petition and a memo released by the Students’ Association Senate, recent discussions with Director of Campus Dining and Auxiliary Operations Cam Schauf have illuminated the fact that the newly revised meal plan will remain in place at least for the 2008-09 academic year.
Nonetheless, Schauf encourages students to speak up about their concerns and voice their opinions in an effort to revisit the changes for the 2009-10 academic year.
Sophomore Julia Winer, co-author of the Students Against Dining Plan Linked to Housing Petition, commented on a conversation she had with Schauf.
“I had a meeting with Cam last week in which he told me that the petition allowed him to see that he did not collect enough student opinion before solidifying this new meal plan,” Winer said. “The multitude of student names on the petition effectively called [Cam’s] attention to the fact that the proportion of the student body that disagrees with the new plan is in fact the majority.”
“Because the meal plan was solidified in November, it is unfortunately too late to change it for next year. However, Cam has agreed to hold an open forum for student opinion either this spring or next fall regarding the 2009-10 meal plan.”
Cam elaborated on those ideas in a separate interview.
“The message moving forward… is that we will continue to work in a collaborative way with anyone who comes forward,” Schauf said.
“Throughout the process we have met with and talked to individual student groups that asked to meet with us that had concerns. We’re trying to address all those issues.”
Schauf stressed that it would not be possible to make all of the changes that groups suggested, primarily because Dining Services, in order to serve students’ needs, requires its vendors to remain open longer than is profitable.
“If we went completely voluntary [all-Declining], there could be a decrease in the number of operations open and/or a decrease in the number of hours of operations,” Schauf said.
Speaker of the Students’ Association Senate and senior Sam Lehman said he was frustrated by the lack of communication between Schauf and students, and elaborated on the financial structure of the meal plan.
“Centralizing Clubs narrows options but it gives you the full price of a Club,” he said. “Clubs let you Club a meal but Decline a snack. With Clubs, you are buying the infrastructure, not just the dollar values. You are paying for the meal plan to exist.”
Presidential candidates for the upcoming SA election shared their views on the new meal plan. SA Senator and sophomore Patrick Chase said that the SA should play a role in this issue.
“Student government needs to take an assertive and responsible role in advocating for student needs, especially reducing the burden of Club Meals, without alienating the administration at the same time,” he said. “We need to be reasonable yet forceful because alienating Cam and the administration will only lead to more dining troubles in the future.”
Another presidential candidate, SA Senator and junior Mustafa Rehmani, also shared his thoughts. “At this point, fixing the meal plan changes is far-fetched,” he said. “They are pretty set on these changes, but it does not mean that we should give up.”
Rehmani continued on to say that he feels Dining reforms should be divided between the long and short term.
“Meal plans seem to be a hot topic for the candidates this year,” he said. “It is important to distinguish between short-term and long-term goals, between both what is realistic and idealistic. Both are important to building a greater University of Rochester community in the future.”
Finally, candidate, SA Senator and junior Eric Sansky expressed the importance of collaboration between the SA and Dining Services.
“It is important that both sides, the SA and Dining Services, move forward together so a solution that is [both] acceptable to the students and realistic for Dining can be achieved,” he said.
Wisch is a member of the class of 2011. Additional reporting by Erin Sanehir.