Illustration by Tebben Lopez/The Mirror

Dorm room living is a typical part of the college experience.  Typically, you have a roommate, a communal bathroom and a student lounge.  When coming to college, we are aware of all of the expenses that come along with boarding.

So when exactly did I miss the memo that I was required to pay for a meal plan?  It is downright absurd to think that just when you believe you are finished paying off those college expenses per semester, you are knocked with more overly priced fees.

Let’s face it: This is Barone we’re talking about.  Perhaps I could see if our cafeteria was equivalent to a four- or five-star restaurant.  However, I truly believe that the amount of money we are required to spend on meal plans while living in dorms just does not add up.

Instead of simply ranting about how expensive the meal plan is, why don’t we take a look at a few numerical facts to put this into perspective?  The average meal plan consists of twelve meals per week at Barone and $100 worth of Dining Dollars that can be used at the Stag.  Per semester, this totals approximately $2,365.  While the $100 Dining Dollars might seem like a perk to some students, the Stag food is so incredibly overpriced that the money practically flies right off your StagCard.  This leaves us paying $2,265 solely for the food in Barone.

Comparing this statistic to the price of board ($3,500 dollars per semester) creates a few shocking gasps.  When remembering that this money covers dorm rooms, cleaning services, the prices of student lounges, gym memberships and many other services, it seems outrageous that our meal plans cost even close to this amount.

As Jillian Muhlbauer ’14 says, “We are paying money to be able to use the facilities in the buildings, such as the kitchens in the student lounges.  I would much rather cook meals there and save some money.”

It is true that making soup, sandwiches and pasta on your own can save a great deal of money.  However, students living in dorms are still required to choose a meal plan from a list of options.

It is a common misconception that changing the meal plan to 10 meals per week and $300 Dining Dollars may save us a nice portion of money.  In reality, it costs an additional $150 to do so.  While a student using this plan may receive $200 more Dining Dollars, they are really only receiving $50 more Dining Dollars because of the cost of the additional charge.  This leaves the student with 32 fewer meals per semester, which clearly does not make sense.  I am really unsure where the logic for this plan came from.

I highly recommend that the University reconsider the Sodexho meal plans for next year so that a small financial weight can be lifted off the backs of students and their parents. While we are stuck with our expensive meal plans, let’s try to be economically savvy and use at least a few of our meals weekly while stretching out those Dining Dollars for as long as possible.

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