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Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024
The Eagle
Sonikka Loganathan Headshot

Shutting down affordable access to dining options during spring break is absurd

Refusing to accept meal swipes during time off hurts students

For many students, spring break is a week of relaxation, vacations to tropical sites or spending time with family. We all look forward to the post-midterms, mid-semester break.

However, this doesn’t mean that all students leave campus. Spring break can also be a time to explore D.C., catch up on a semester’s worth of readings or enjoy an empty dorm room. It is also an opportunity for people to work a few extra shifts at work. Some students might not be able to go home because flights are expensive or they live too far away. Other students are required to stay here because they have work or extracurricular obligations. Regardless of the reason, shutting down food services because a large chunk of the AU population leaves campus is a negligent assumption and denies students of a basic need.

There were three dining options open during the break: Starbucks, Subway and the Eagle’s Nest P.O.D. However, meal swipes were not working, so students were forced to use their own money to pay for meals instead of using their meal plans. When students decide to live on campus, cooking and accessibility to grocery stores can be difficult. However, students are not really informed well in advance that they will have to fend for themselves during breaks, and hence struggle. Some students rely primarily on meal swipes and may not be able to afford to eat out or buy a lot of groceries, a problem I faced when I stayed back for break during my freshman year.

Sophomore McKim Jean-Pierre stayed in her suite during spring break. She said she expected that dining options would be closed.

“It’s interesting because I was staying here to save money, yet seemingly was at risk of wasting a lot of money just to feed myself,” Jean-Pierre said.

I understand that keeping the Terrace Dining Room and other food outlets open during spring break would require the University to pay those workers during that time. However, given the amount that students pay for housing and dining services at this University, I think that the school should find money to pay TDR workers, or at the very least, allow students to use meal swipes.

The University must do better in informing students in advance, about hours of operation during school breaks. While flyers were put up around food venues the week before break, at the very least an email should also be sent out. This will allow students planning on staying here for breaks to prepare. Considering some student-athletes are also required to remain on campus, dining options should remain open at least for the first few days of break when they have practice.

“It kind of seems inconsiderate to make students purchase expensive meal plans and then not accept swipes when the University knows that many students, including athletes, have to stay on campus,” Graciela Rey, a member of the dance team, said.

As an international student who has spent two spring breaks here because I’m from another part of the world and can’t afford a trip, shutting the school down seems like an assumption of privilege.

For students who have already paid for their dining options and have chosen to primarily eat on campus, that option should remain available to us. I urge the administration to find a way to keep either TDR or the Tavern options open during breaks. At the very least, Subway and the P.O.D. Market must accept to meal swipes so that students have at least something to fall back on.

Sonikka Loganathan is a junior in the School of Communication. She is a staff columnist.

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