Changes to Meal Plan: Hit or Miss?

Cassidy Fuller

After a long summer away from campus following my freshman year, I was ready to be back in Lexington by the time August rolled around. I looked forward to the perks of being an upperclassman, especially the new meal plan.

Instead of eating all of my meals in D-hall, I would now be able to enjoy dining in the sorority houses with my sisters, a privilege that I could not enjoy as a freshman.

But low and behold, upon my arrival, I, along with all other Greek affiliated women, found that our past meal plan had been changed.

The one major change that came with the new system was that sorority girls could now use their meal swipes not only at their houses, but also at D-hall, Hillel or any other food retail outlet here.

Already, I have heard girls raving about the perks of the versatile system; they can now eat breakfast at Hillel every morning for an early study session, grab a quick lunch in D-hall and finish off the day by eating dinner at the sorority houses.

Personally, as an athlete here at W&L, the new plan offers significantly more flexibility for me. For example, I now have more dining options when practice runs late and I miss dinner at the sorority houses.

Unfortunately, there seems to be one major flaw to the system so far. Each Monday night, dinner is served at each sorority house before chapter, a mandatory meeting for all of the sorority’s members.

In the past, chapter dinner was not counted as a swipe. This new plan, however, requires students to swipe in order to eat at chapter dinner.

Upperclassmen who have a five-swipe meal plan will only have meal swipes for four out of five lunches if they wish to attend chapter dinner on Monday night. They would be required to use their Foodflex money for their fifth lunch, regardless of where they dined.

Foodflex, money on student’s accounts, can be used to buy food at D-hall, Co-op or Hillel. Most students start the semester with $225.

A swipe in D-hall or the sorority houses costs $7.50. For the sorority women to purchase the extra meal each week, they would be forced to spend around $100 of their Foodflex each semester.

A simple fix for this problem would be to have a six-swipe meal plan specifically for these upperclassmen sorority girls.

Instead, the next best alternative is the 10-swipe plan that costs approximately $590 more than the five swipe plan for the fall semester alone.

When the head of dining services spoke to each sorority about the new plan, he mentioned that a student focus group was conducted to put the plan together. But only 3 out of the 10 students involved were a part of Greek life. That does not seem to be a fair representation of our student body, which is 80 percent Greek.

A larger sample of students would have shown that a six-swipe meal plan would have been a better fit for sorority girls who live off campus but still eat in the houses or at D-hall each day.

I understand that dining services did not want to target one group on campus over another, but they provide a specific two-swipe plan designed with fraternity members in mind. Why not add a six-meal plan as well?

Better yet, why not let students have more control over their plan and let them chose the number of swipes they get per week from 5 to 20 or so?

I realize this could create significantly more work for those in charge of organizing our meal plans and that it is a bit unrealistic. However, it should not be unrealistic to have a practical meal plan for such a large part of our student body.

Overall, I approve of the new system and love that it gives me more flexibility to dine where and when I want. I do hope that by the time I live off-campus my senior year, Dining Services will have figured out a way to better accommodate the needs of all students.