Fairfield University saw many changes over the past semester, and some were received better than others. One such change has been removing the meal swipe exchange from The Stag. Over the past two and a half years, students have been able to use meal swipes at the University’s restaurant-style dining area, a helpful way to open up meal options and avoid overcrowding at the Daniel and Grace Tully Dining Commons. However, students arrived to campus this semester to find that they no longer could use a meal swipe at The Stag.
The meal exchange program at The Stag was being scaled back before this year, however. For the 2018-2019 academic year, the Class of 2022 was only able to use a meal swipe at The Stag from 9-10 p.m. Nevertheless, many students were surprised to see that the meal exchange was now gone altogether.
“The Senate has received considerable feedback on the termination of the meal swipe program. All of which has been negative,” wrote Speaker of the Fairfield University Student’s Association Senate Tyler Heffern ‘22 via electronic message. “At last Wednesday’s General Senate Meeting, President Monahan, speaking for 2 affected students, brought some of their concerns to our attention. The matter was debated thoroughly, and ultimately referred to the Committee on Facilities, Technology, & Auxiliary Services to be investigated and hopefully resolved to the benefit of the student body.”
The lack of a meal exchange program at The Stag also caused some upperclassmen to cancel their meal plan altogether.
“I had the 45 swipe plan this year with the intention of using most of swipes for lunch at [The Stag] through the meal exchange,” wrote Jack Campbell ‘21 via electronic message, “but once I found out that the meal exchange was no longer a thing I cancelled my meal plan and transferred the funds to Stagbucks to use them at the Stag and at stores in town.”
Although it is clear that students were surprised by this change, it was always the plan, according to Assistant Vice President of Administration and Student Affairs James Fitzpatrick.
“Back in January of 2017, when we started the construction to transition from the Barone Dining Hall to the Tully it was a challenging semester in terms of starting construction in Barone and right after Easter Break for six weeks feeding students in the tent,” said Fitzpatrick in an interview. “We were looking at ways to try to ease that upheaval, so what we did was come up with meal swipes on a temporary basis. Our goal was that it was going to only last five semesters, which it did.”
Fitzpatrick stated that the meal exchange program ran its full intended course, from the Spring of 2017 to the Spring of 2019.
“Meal swipes were never supposed to last, especially with us spending over $20 million on this wonderful, brand new dining hall.”
However, this was not the only change that The Stag saw from last semester, as it also got its hours cut, now only being open until 8:00 p.m.
“We used to open until 1:00 [a.m.], each year it’s been no one to 12:00 to 1:00 [a.m.], no one from 11:00 [p.m.] to 12:00 [a.m.], no one from 10:00 to 11:00 [p.m.], and finally the numbers just weren’t there to justify it,” said Fitzpatrick. “That’s why we came up with this new meal swipe, the MicroMarket.”
The MicroMarket, open from 8:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., is the new option for students who want to grab a bite late at night.
“Now you can get something there through 10:00 [p.m.], you can do cash or you can do swipe. It’s a place where students who are late can get something to eat if they have to,” continued Fitzpatrick.
Lastly, the Late Night at the Stag event was changed this semester to be Late Night at the Levee.
“It was strictly cost,” said Fitzpatrick. “It’s so much more inexpensive for us to do it at the Levee. We have it two times [at the Levee] with over 200 students each night, so the numbers seem there. I’ve had some good conversations with FUSA and the Senate about reviewing it and looking at Late Night at the Levee to see if that’s where we want to continue it or it might be in some other form. Possibly we might have one night a month be Late Night at the Stag.”
There are also some issues students are having with Late Night at the Levee not accepting Dining Dollars, which Fitzpatrick stated he was looking into.
Although students were surprised at the changes to dining options on campus, it seems as though these changes were always in the works and appear to be the new status quo.