As of late Wednesday evening, 1,027 individuals have endorsed an online petition, detailing their objections to next year’s new Meal Plan system. The petition, along with a memo released Monday night by the Students’ Association Senate, reflects the general level of students dissatisfaction over the meal plan, which assigns minimum Club meals according to a student’s housing.

Many students have requested freedom of choice and reduced Clubs for upperclassmen. Some reject the basis for the new system – which is partly to adhere to fire code safety by reducing the need for makeshift kitchens in Hill Court – by claiming that these plans will be ineffective in resolving the problem.

Eight discontented students authored a petition three weeks ago to address their main objections to University administrators. Junior Willem Lutter introduced the idea on a Facebook group and he worked with seven others to construct a petition that described their concerns. The petition stresses freedom of choice in meal plans and requests that “upperclassmen be given the freedom to choose among meal plans that include a minimum required plan consisting of entirely Declining.”

“With this petition, we hope to make the administration see that there is in fact a large proportion of the student body that disagrees with the new legislation regarding dining,” co-creator of the petition and sophomore Julia Winer said. “We believe that with a considerable number of students signing the petition, we will make an important statement to those in charge of this University.”

With those in charge failing to take quick action, the SA Senate responded Monday evening by passing a memo that had been in the works for weeks. Drafted by the Dining Plan Assessment Task Force, the memo recommended that the implementation of the Meal Plan be postponed one year. It stated that the rationale lacked merit, and predicted that the proposed changes would create socioeconomic divisions, negatively impact Special Interest Housing groups and constrain students’ freedom of choice.

At the Senate meeting SA Senator and junior Eric Sansky, who worked on the language of the memo, explained his strategy. He said that Dining Services and Residential Life were determined to see the plan through, but the memo was directed at their superiors. When pressed for names, he landed on Associate Vice President of Facilities and Services Richard Pifer and Sr. Vice President for Administration and Finance and CFO Ronald Paprocki.

In an interview, Director of Dining Services and Auxiliary Operations Cam Schauf explained his relationship with Paprocki, stressing that they work to mutually help each other.

Schauf next described the steps he plans to take after he received the memo on Tuesday.

“I can’t speak at this moment about the impact of the memo we got [Tuesday] because the next step with that is to meet with Eric [Weismann] and members of the project team about their concerns,” he said. “We’re always open for discussion? and we have been throughout this communication process.”

Contamanolis said that the current plan already reflects past students’ earlier feedback.

“The new plans were reviewed by a variety of students prior to presenting to the University community and they reflect changes and recommendations made by students,” she said.

The plans were altered, for example, after Contomanolis and others met with the SA Projects and Services Committee. Two Platinum Declining options were added to Gale and Chambers Houses in response to feedback from the committee.

Senators at the meeting believed that students did not have a large enough say in the Meal Plan.

“I don’t think the plan they came out with had enough student feedback,” SA Senator and sophomore Patrick Chase said. Chase believed that the SA should have taken a more active role in the Plan months ago.

“I felt like that student groups and leadership was well represented,” Schauf said. “It is difficult to ever say that you had a great representation of the student body – it’s as representative as we thought we could get.”

Schauf elaborated that the feedback he has received has not been entirely negative. “We’ve heard concerns, but we also heard from people who think the plans are good ones and the changes are good ones,” he said.

Last Thursday, the grassroots movement that began with the petition expanded past the Internet. Fliers advertising an informal dining meeting for students in Douglass Dining Center encouraged students to “Speak up and speak out” about the meal plans. The bottom of the flier candidly stated, “Your Meal Plan is Student Funded”.

Students congregated in Douglass at 7 p.m. Thursday, where they spoke in turn about their reactions to the plan. Senior Joseph Baum described his unique situation regarding the changed plans.

“I keep kosher and I put in a request to have a meal plan change, to a lower meal plan, and I was told no, denied, and I wasn’t given a reason,” he said. “The letter was couched in a nice bureaucratic language.”

The future of the plan remains open. SA Senator and junior Mustafa Rehmani believed that passing the memo was the right course of action, but he was dubious about its impact.

“[Dining Services and Residential Life] have evaluated every possible scenario of students fighting back at this,” he said. “But this is the right first step.”

Leber is a member of the class of 2011.Addtional reporting by Ben Wrobel.

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