This archived article was written by: Jessica Barton
There’s a bully on campus who has reportedly stolen thousands of dollars from students. The scary thing is, the bully is the school itself. Every semester, hundreds of dollars are stolen from students with a meal plan and an Eagle card. Shocking, I know. Actually this thievery has been going on for years.
The school offers three-meal plans for students living in non-cooking apartments; one for “light eaters” at $750, another at $850, and a plan for big eaters at $950. They are estimated based on a monetary amount projected for spending each day. But if a student doesn’t consume the amount of food predicted, the student has leftover money at the end of the semester. This money is non-transferable and non-refundable. It does not rollover to the next semester; you must pay the same overestimated amount and lose even more in the spring. It does not get refunded. So where does it go? If students are not using it to buy their food, how is it being spent?
It is the food organization’s profit. Since the school doesn’t budget money for the food services, it runs only on our purchased meal plans. If the school refunded leftover money (that was not used for food), it would make no profit and the students would not have dining services at all.
The question is, does that make it right or does it just make it worse? I spoke with three students who gave their opinions on the subject.
Halyn Palmer, a Sessions Hall resident on an academic honors scholarship, still has $700 dollars on her meal plan. She is trying to use it by buying several other student’s meals. Palmer also plans to donate a lot of money to bread and soup night. She explains that the reason she has not used more of her meal credit is due to the fact that she works long hours at K-Mart. Her work hours unfortunately do not coincide with the open hours of the dining services, so she generally does not take advantage of the food offered by the college.
For Trevor Harting, another resident of Sessions, who still has $400-500 on his meal plan, the food is the reason he hasn’t spent more of his money. He describes the pizza as watery and says that the situation “sucks.” The money for his meal plan is not covered by a scholarship and it is coming out of his pocket. He wants to know where the leftover money is going and says, “If it is going to the dining services, they should get some better food that I’ll actually eat.”
There are some that have used all their money like Shawn Barnes, a resident from Burtenshaw. He only has $9.45 left in his account. He spent it on drinks in between classes at The Golden Grille and buys steak on Sundays. He thinks the steak is overpriced, along with many of the other items. Barnes suggests that the money be able to be used in the bookstore as well.
These are only three examples of students with meal plans, but it is a common story among those who are required to spend hundreds of dollars each semester that they don’t spend. The college requires dorm residents to have a plan who don’t have a cooking apartment, but yet they do not provide students food on Sunday mornings so students have to spend even more money on groceries anyway.
According to Bill Osborn, assistant dean of students, the plan used to run on a certain number of meals you could have, where you could eat all you wanted and then once you had used the number of meals you had purchased, you would have to pay for any additional food.
If you are upset about this, I encourage you to look at whether you are using your card to its fullest extent. A suggestion box is in the cafeteria for your convenience. Write your ideas in a letter to the administration with your complaints. Maybe there could be more transportable foods, like bags of chips, boxed cereal, bottled water etc. Maybe they could have a greater variation of meal plans and have one for ultra-light eaters. Maybe they could give a credit to those with an exorbitant amount of money left over on their cards. But for those of you that will lose hundreds of dollars to CEU’s dining services, maybe you can do something about it.