Meal plans should be declining balance

The way students pay for University meals is unduly complicated, inadequate to many individual needs and often results in a high cost per meal. Although the University has tinkered with this year’s meal plan options, problems have not been fully addressed. The University must simplify its meal plan system. Rather than bombarding students with options and plans reminiscent of telephone company practices, the University should offer students one option to pay for meals: a declining balance system.

The situation is worst for students at living at Bailey, Centennial, Comstock, Middlebrook, Pioneer and Sanford halls because they are required to purchase a meal plan. This applies even if the student does not like the food or is too busy to eat University meals. This results in students paying a relatively high cost to eat at University dining facilities. In these residence halls, the students do not have an “out” option, nor are they allowed to purchase the more affordable all-Flex-dine plan.

With declining balance, these problems would be alleviated greatly. Students would put into their account how much they want to spend. Residents in the mentioned halls would no longer be forced to choose between similar meal plans.

Opponents of declining balance say kitchens would have to be closed. However, there would be no need to close kitchens because, similar to what happens at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the costs of kitchens could be applied universally through room rates. And even though room rates could be slightly higher in some halls, most students would end up spending less money overall for meals.

It is bad enough the costs of tuition, housing and textbooks are going through the roof. Students shouldn’t be forced to pay through the teeth for their food as well.