Dramatic improvements for the current meal plan were outlined by Dining Services at Wednesday’s Town Hall Meeting. It was announced that student housing choices will be inextricably linked with their meal plans, effective fall 2008.

With more Declining Dollars and less Club Meals across most of the plans, students will be able to choose the lifestyle that fits them best, regardless of their class year. Decreasing the minimum requirement for freshmen and providing better options for sophomores should make underclassmen content. Students with full kitchens can be on all-Declining plans, allowing them the best use of their living arrangements.

While some students may find it limiting to combine the housing and dining decisions, the change was vital. In recent years, many students with Declining-only packages have created an unnecessary fire hazard by setting up make-shift kitchens in their rooms – the New York State Fire Marshall threatened to shut down Hill Court on two occasions. This has highlighted the need to require those living in environments without kitchens to have some level of Club Meals on their dining plan. By making this change, students will congregate at one of the dining halls rather than cook on George Foreman grills in their rooms.

This proposal will also benefit Residential Life and the housing process. A more compatible plan available to Southside residents, along with the addition of the Riverview complex, should help efficiently redistribute the housing choices for many students. The meal plan provides an incentive for students to live in such areas and should alleviate some of the housing crunch.

One concern about this plan involves the cost of living on the Residential Quad or in Hill Court. It seems inappropriate that money-conscious students may be forced to live in those areas farther away from the central part of River Campus.

Overall, this is a successful demonstration of how two University divisions can support each other to serve the needs of the students. The proposal may not be perfect, but this plan will give students more flexibility than the current one.

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