The Class of 2009 will be required to buy at least a 150-block meal plan next year and sophomores living on campus will be required to purchase at least a 75-block meal plan.
In February 2005, Housing and Dining Programs decided to make meal plans mandatory for the Class of 2009’s first two years at AU, however there was no minimum meal block requirement
This year, only 82 sophomores live on campus and do not have a meal plan, said Julie Weber, executive director of housing and dining.
“If you live on campus why wouldn’t you want [a meal plan],” said Rebecca Halpern, a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences.
Mandatory meal plans for students their first two years has become a norm on college campuses, Weber said. The policy was also changed for health and safety reasons and only slightly for financial reasons.
“I think that it’s incredibly unfair because it gyps students and it makes them have to pay for meals that they don’t necessarily want and it costs them a lot more then,” said Steve Piels, a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences.
Last year the South Side dorm complex was evacuated an “abnormally” high number of times for fire alarms, half of which were caused by kitchen fires, Weber said. Having more meals in TDR or the Tavern would alleviate the need to cook, and the chance of fire.
However, students do not agree with Housing and Dining’s reasons for the change.
“A lot of that cooking was done by people not on meal plans,” Weber said. “We would like to minimize the number of people who are doing that.”
Rose Davis, a freshman in CAS, feels that AU can’t stop people from cooking.
“They should put cooking instructions in the lounge,” Davis said.
Others propose different solutions to the problem.
“Why don’t they give cooking classes or something?” said Fletcher Fernau, a freshman in the School of International Service.
Weber also justified the decision by saying that eating in the cafeteria “enhances” the college experience.
“Part of living on campus is the community experience and ours is based on going to cafeteria,” she said.
Current sophomores do not feel as if they are missing anything not having a meal plan.
“The selection which was bad last year is worse this year because they don’t include Chick-Fil-A and Jamba Juice and I like to go out and experience good restaurants in D.C.,” said John Smith, a sophomore in the Kogod School of Business.
Smith did not purchase a meal plan because he said it is too expensive and “at the end of the semester you don’t get back what you didn’t use.”
Piels also does not have a meal plan for similar reasons.
“All the alternatives that people use when they don’t want to have TDR, that is what I do 5 out of 7 days of the week,” Piels said.
Weber said she does not know exactly how students will react but anticipates some negative feedback.
“Any time we have a policy change to put more structure on students or one they see as a financial burden there is always some kind of negative reaction,” Weber said.
Some students are already voicing their concerns with mandatory meal plans.
“I think that it’s a rip off because there are so many other options on campus of place to eat. Forcing you to get a meal plan is making you pay an average of $10 a meal when you could be paying less” Stephanie Zechmann, a freshman in SIS, said.