Though administrators made efforts to tailor the new Barnard meal plan requirement to student needs, some now debating which plan to buy say they are still unhappy with the changes.
In February, the administration assembled a meal plan taskforce, a group comprised of students, council members, and administrators to deal with concerns about Barnard’s decision to require all students to buy a plan. Previously, it was only mandated for first-years and those living in Hewitt.
Last month, Dean of the College Dorothy Denburg announced the final program: both campus residents and full-time commuters will be required to take a meal plan. First-years are still required to purchase an unlimited meal plan, and other students living in the Quad must purchase a meal plan ranging from 60 to 150 meals per term. All other students must choose from one of three $300 meal plans, including a points-only plan that can be used at any Barnard dining location to purchase à la carte meals and snacks.
“The changes were made for a combination of financial needs, to support the operation of the new facility, and the desire to strengthen campus community,” Denburg said.
Katie Palillo, BC ’10 and Student Government Association president, said that the work of the taskforce, in which she took part, was well incorporated into the decision to restructure the proposed meal plan changes.
In response to student feedback, SGA also created a Food Advisory Board last semester to address any concerns.
“I’m really hoping that students that have an issue with the meal plan go to the Food Advisory Board to seek out their help and use that as their means to get changes made,” said Verna Patti, BC ’11 and junior representative to the Board of Trustees, and a member of the taskforce.
Aramark, Barnard’s food provider, will be responsible for ensuring the implementation of changes but SGA representatives say the Food Advisory Board plans to work closely with them to ensure that students’ needs are being met.
Some students outside of SGA, though, say they are less than pleased.
“I think it is horrible,” said Natasha Babar, BC ’13 and a commuter. “They shouldn’t make us buy food when we’re never here.”
Sonya Bach, BC ’11, who will live in Plimpton next year, said she had been looking forward to not buying a plan. “I don’t think seniors should have to pay that much for the meal plan.”
“It is kind of annoying because I’m probably not going to even use those 150 meals,” Victoria Solomon, BC ’12, added.
Some graduating seniors, who are just avoiding the new requirement, also sympathized with their concerned classmates.
“I feel really bad for the people who are going to be stuck on it,” Elise Bergerson, BC ’10, said. “The meal plan is very awful. I don’t fully understand the intent because it’s not a community thing.”
But others were optimistic. Previously, the meal plan did not feature cheaper $300 meal plans and points-only options.
“Now that you can have a points-only option it’s not that bad,” Zara Mogilevsky, BC ’11, said. “My main problem has always been with Hewitt.”
Denburg said that she is pleased with the meal plan program and seeks to provide students with attractive, healthy, and varied food options.
“I hope that it will bring more students on campus,” said SGA Junior Class President and newly-elected SGA President Lara Avsar, BC ’11.“But I will say that we will be looking to make any necessary changes to make sure everything is running smoothly and all of the students are happy.”
For now, Patti said, SGA will wait for the new meal plan program to go into effect before making changes. “I think we have to test it and see what happens in the fall.”