“‘Club meals’ are a thing of the past,” says UR Dining’s informational sheet about next year’s new meal plans. Indeed they are: Starting next semester, meal plans will switch over to “Unlimited Plans,” which grant daily all-you-can-eat access to Douglass Dining Center and Danforth, as well as a declining balance. As for how the Unlimited Plans will work out, we’ll have to wait and see them in action: Many other schools utilize similar plans, but preliminary concerns have been raised about some aspects of this plan (such as the limit of only five “guest meals” per semester). But one thing that already seems to be a problem is the new plan’s use of declining: It seems mishandled in a way that makes the Unlimited Plan either insufficient or just pointless.
Next year, there will be three choices for an Unlimited Plan, which all provide full access to Douglass and Danforth and a declining balance of $100, $350 or $500 per semester. The Unlimited Plan with $500 declining is the most expensive one – it totals $2,485 altogether – and mind you, that’s the maximum amount of declining allowed with any Unlimited Plan. This means that, as nice as it will be to have unlimited access to Douglass and Danforth, students with these plans will have $500 at the very most for The Commons, the Common Market, Starbucks, Connections, the Southside Market and the all-new P.O.D. Market that will also debut next semester. We’re currently at the point of the semester when many students have about $500 declining left — how will a total of $500 (or, in the case of many students, probably much less) be a sufficient balance for the whole semester, when the majority of our dining options will still rely on declining?
Of course, students also have the option to bypass the Unlimited Plan altogether and just rely on declining. The maximum declining plan that’s available costs $1,825 — enough to last an entire semester and cheaper than any of the Unlimited Plans. Who would have thought that unlimited access to food could seem so unexciting?