RIP, eight-meal plan.

Apr 22, 2007 • Karen

First, a hall draw recap: We got the suite we wanted. Third floor GJW, with balcony. After we drew I went up there to poke around and say hi to the current residents, and it is most lovely. Can't wait until next year to be living with Carolyn, Cambria, and everyone!

Now for the rant.

I had been thinking about going onto the eight meal plan for next year. I got used to cooking on my own while in Denmark, and I don't need $9 all-you-can-eat meals all the time. So, on the day of hall draw, I called up the Scripps office to ask how much each of the meal plans was (they don't post that information on their website).

16 meals + $160 flex = $2350
12 meals + $120 flex = $2150
8 meals + $80 flex = $1550

Weirdly enough, the price of a meal goes way up the fewer meals you get--from $9 to $12/meal. That's like paying the dinner price for every meal--it would be cheaper to be off the meal plan altogether and buy your eight meals with cash! So I decided I wouldn't go for the eight--while getting *any* of the meal plans is overpaying in my view, the eight just wasn't worth it.

That decision turned out to be moot. When I got to hall draw, the staffers running it told me that we couldn't sign up for the eight meal plan--they're eliminating it altogether. This despite me calling the office THAT DAY and getting a price quote! There clearly wasn't any intra-administration understanding on this issue, and students never heard about it until they stepped into Balch. That's a bit of a communications failure.

The justification for the elimination of the eight-meal plan option, according to the piece of paper they gave each of us:

1.) It's not a good financial option. Well, agreed here. But *why* is it so expensive in the first place--it's priced above the dollar value of the meals! Why couldn't they just lower the price to be in line with the 16?

2.) Pitzer already eliminated their eight-meal plan. Yes...but they part they don't tell you is that Pitzer has a five-meal plan option, an option we don't have. And by the way... holy crap, their meal plans are like $700/semester cheaper than Scripps'! And McConnell's food is as good or better than that at Malott (not that, with 5C meal access, it should make that much of a difference)! Man, now I feel even more ripped off!

3.) "We have often heard from parents, students, and health experts that they do not believe that any student can truly be academically or personally successful while trying to sustain themselves on only eight meals per week." Um, duh. The twelve would be hard to live on, too, if I didn't take fruit from the dining halls for breakfasts/brunches. The idea of the eight-meal plans that you have dining hall meals for when you're rushed (e.g. lunch between classes), but then you buy groceries and cook for yourself for the rest. If anyone thinks that forcing a girl to buy a twelve-meal plan will stop her from being anorexic, you're nuts.

I hate being forced to buy things I don't want. Ideally, I'd get off the meal plan altogether. I cooked for myself and packed my own lunches all fall semester--I could do it again, for much less money than the cost of the meal plans. But that's not an option for anyone who's not off-campus or in the senior apartments. Why not? Is it paternalism or just plain extortion? Neither explanation looks too tasty to me.