No brown bagging

It’s unfortunate that meals plans are forced on students living in residence halls.

Students moving into residence halls next fall will have to deal with the mandatory dining plans from the University Dining Services. These meal plans are focused on being âÄúan integral part of residential life,âÄù said UDS Associate Director Karen DeVet in an e-mail. But they shouldnâÄôt be. UDS argues that in addition to creating an ideal social environment for students, meal plans are necessary for resident-hall students due to fire codes preventing the use of ovens or other appliances in the dorm rooms. Those are legitimate concerns but certainly not overriding. These plans are expensive. The cheapest meal plan UDS offers is $1,474 a semester, while the most expensive is $1,694. Moreover, when meals are left unused, students are not reimbursed for them. The costly plan on top of the extra food college students purchase adds unnecessary yet mandatory expenses to budgets. And a predetermined amount of FlexDine dollars are required, not optional, for students purchasing the plans, thus forcing students to dine at the University locations that accept the tender. At this point, the prospect for change is bleak; the UniversityâÄôs contract with UDS does not expire until 2021. (Sadly, the University negotiated a 12-year contract with UDS last April.) Hence the burden is on UDS âÄî a private company whose primary interest is profit âÄî to make meal plans more student-friendly and affordable. ThatâÄôs not likely to happen. At the very least, students should be aware that while theyâÄôre living in the residence halls, they must eat mandated cafeteria food, lest they starve or go broke.