Congratulations to the student and faculty dining committees and to UR President Thomas Jackson for deciding to implement a dramatically different and economically sensible set of dining plans.

I had the privilege of serving on the student dining committee before leaving to study abroad.

When the committee was formed, we were faced with an existing plan that punished its best customers, hid up to one half of its real costs to students and discouraged improvement in dining by mandating plans for an excessively large segment of the community.

Many of the changes that needed to be made, including eliminating the fixed-service fee, were not initially popular with the administration, but the students on the committee, with the support of River Campus Dean of Students Mary-Beth Cooper, emphasized the necessity of these changes.

The fact that so many of the changes recommended by the student committee were adopted is a welcome sign that the administration is ready to take constructive student input into serious consideration when making decisions that affect the undergraduate community.

The removal of the fixed-ser-vice fee corrects the economic absurdity of putting the entire cost of overhead on dining?s best customers ? students on dining plans.

Although it is likely that visible costs will rise as a result of the fixed fee elimination, it is essential to realize that these increases would not constitute an increase in real costs, but simply reflect the incorporation of previously hidden costs.

Mandatory plans have a negative effect on the quality of food and service by eliminating the tie between performance and demand. The removal of this unfair and economically nonsensical policy for juniors and seniors is a very promising improvement.

More people being on dining plans by choice and fewer by compulsion will not only reduce student anger toward dining, but will also restructure the incentives for Dining Services and ARAMARK, so that their revenue will not be guaranteed, but rather linked to the quality that they provide.

The new plans are not perfect ? mandatory plans should be eliminated for sophomores as well. Also, the maintenance of blocks, which inherently create inefficiency and limit flexibility in the name of protecting ?budget unsavvy? freshmen, seems condescending and unnecessary.

Nevertheless, the adoption of the plan is a huge victory for the student body.

With it comes the even greater satisfaction that the administration is willing to consider and incorporate meaningful student input when making decisions that affect all of us.

? John Brach

Class of 2002

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