Assoc. Opinion Editor
This past summer, Millersville University underwent many dramatic alterations: the newly-renovated library opened up, construction for the new dorms began, and the new parking lot was built for resident students.
One change, however, that has been nothing but a detriment for Millersville students is the new dining adjustments. I could survive with the Anchor opening later; they’re hours of operation switched from opening at 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. The most dramatic modifications that many of us have to suffer are the new limitations on the meal plans.
For those, including myself, who use the 14 meals-per-week plan are encountering the most problems from cutbacks in dining. The price of our meals has gone up, while what we can actually get has declined.
To put things into perspective, let’s look at the costs of meals for the previous semester.
The price of the 14 meal plan during the 2013 spring semester was $1744.00, while the 19 meal plan cost students $1928.00. Additionally, the 14 meal plan allowed students $150 worth of Flex dollars to use on items that could not be included in a meal, such as Starbucks, many different drinks and sodas, and several snack items that were not included on meals.
New for this academic year, however, is a sharp increase in price and a strict cutback on what students receive. The price for the 14 meal plan for this semester rose to $1911.00, a $167 increase. For students, like me, who are already pinching pennies to attend college, $167 isn’t exactly a small fee. Being the least expensive meal plan that resident students are allowed to purchase, Millersville dining has put many of us into greater economic despair.
So, if the price of our meal plan has gone up, then can we expect more out of it? The answer to this question is a definite no. In fact, we are actually getting less than what we have paid for in previous semesters. Consider the amount of Flex dollars each meal plan participant receives. For this year, dining has cut the amount of Flex dollars for the 14 meal plan from $150 to $125, a $25 reduction from the spring.
To some, $25 might seem like a small amount, however, this amount can buy ten Starbucks Frappuccinos, thirteen bottles of soda, sixteen bags of $1.50 chips, four shakes from the Juice Bar, or four packs of sushi from the Anchor. Ultimately, $25 goes a long way when put into that context.
Cutting our Flex dollars by 20 percent restricts students from eating foods that the meal plan does not cover. Dining has put many students into a distressing situation. Choosing to cut down on our food availabilities affects our choice to return for the following semester.
Dining and administration need to understand that cutting back on dining options for students affects our lifestyles and health issues. Ultimately, they should not discriminate against those students, including myself, who simply cannot afford to purchase more expensive meal plans.
I understand that budget cuts need to be made, however, they must not rip off the students they are desperately trying to keep.