The changes made to meal plans at the start of the 2011-12 academic year, specifically the implementation of Unlimited plans instead of club plans, have been a popular topic of discussion comprised of mixed student opinion ever since they were implemented.
In an attempt to cater to the student body’s dining preferences, new ideas have been brought to the table. While definitive plans for the 2013-14 academic year have not yet been decided, three potential options were presented at the Students’ Association Senate meeting on Monday, Oct. 22. Two of the options present variations on the Unlimited plans and the old club plan system, both of which have been largely unpopular with many students because of their lack of flexibility. The most radically different, and most improved, of the plans would involve a potential change to an all Declining system.
Many undergraduate students dislike eating at Douglass Dining Center and Danforth Dining Hall — the only locations where it is possible to use the Unlimited Plan — for a number of reasons. For example, the hours that these two dining halls are open are limited and often less convenient than the hours of other campus dining locations. To make matters worse, Douglass is not open on weekends, leaving Danforth as the only option for students on Unlimited plans who want to preserve their small amount of Declining.
On the proposed Declining system, upperclassmen living on the Residential Quad would have greater dining options because they would not be forced to eat at the only two dining centers on campus that take Unlimited plans. More importantly, all students would be able to choose a Declining meal plan that more accurately reflects their eating habits, instead of paying a flat fee for an indeterminate number of meals as they must on the Unlimited plan.
In order to offset the costs of overhead faced by UR Dining, the majority of which includes paying for labor and food, all students would be required to pay a base fee in addition to the cost of the proposed plan, regardless of class year or where they live on campus. Declining plans would therefore stop the complaints from upperclassmen who live on the Res Quad and feel they are unfairly forced to shoulder the costs of overhead because of where they chose to live.
The overhead fee, which might initially seem unwarranted and high, would in reality be a small price to pay for the added flexibility of an all Declining plan and would also create a greater sense of fairness among students because they would all be paying the same extra fee.