All on-campus residents may be required to buy meal plan

    UCSD Housing and Dining Services is contemplating a change to a controversial “”one-contract, one-rate”” plan for undergraduate housing that would begin next year.

    Anna Macmurdo
    Guardian

    If enacted, the plan would charge students the same price for living in residence halls and apartments and require all on-campus residents to purchase a meal plan. All single rooms would cost one price and all double rooms would cost another, regardless of their location.

    One of the goals of the plan, according to H&DS Director Mark Cunningham, would be to unify the freshman experience, because an increasing number of freshman are being housed in on-campus apartments instead of the traditional residence halls.

    Under the proposed plan, all students living in on-campus housing would be required to buy a minimum meal plan. Weekly cleaning service of the common areas would be provided for the apartments, as it is currently provided for the residence halls. Cunningham said H&DS is also considering increasing resident adviser supervision in the apartments.

    Cunningham also said that the one-contract program would simplify housing applications for students and parents.

    “”The one-contract program is a simple program,”” Cunningham said. “”Everybody can understand it.””

    The price of living in the residence halls has been increasing, while the price of living in the on-campus apartments has remained relatively stable. This year, a student living in a double room in the residence halls with the least expensive meal plan ($2,160) pays $7,630 for the school year. Under the one-contract plan, a resident in the same room next year will pay $7,100, including a $1,800 meal plan.

    A resident in a double room in an on-campus apartment currently pays $4,363. Under the one-contract plan, a resident in the same room next year will pay the same $7,100 as a student in a residence hall, including the $1,800 meal plan.

    If this plan is not implemented, rates will increase across the board, but by a higher amount for residence halls. A resident in a double room with a $2,160 meal plan in the residence halls will pay $8,088 in 2002-2003, and a resident in a double room in an apartment will pay $4,687.

    Cunningham said that the goal of the plan is to provide additional amenities in exchange for the higher rates.

    “”The whole theory was to give [residents] something back and not just raise rates,”” he said.

    The plan itself would cost H&DS a great deal to implement. Dining facilities would have to be renovated to deal with the larger number of students they would be serving. Additional custodial personnel would be hired to clean apartments once a week.

    Cunningham said a dining facility of some sort would be set up in the Pepper Canyon/Mathews Apartments area.

    The proposal, which was developed by H&DS, was presented to the college provosts and recently the resident advisers.

    The one-contract plan met with mixed opinions from RAs and student leaders. Sierra Catcott, Thurgood Marshall College sophomore senator to the A.S. Council, is against the plan.

    Catcott said she believes equalizing the price will not mean living in the apartments and living in the residence halls costs the same for students.

    According to Catcott, the fewer residents per apartment automatically means that they will pay more than a group of students living in residence halls, who she said would be splitting costs between a larger number.

    “”The apartment is still going to be more expensive to live in than the res halls,”” she said. “”The living situations are not going to be equaled through this contract.””

    Some RAs believe the plan will be beneficial for next year’s residents.

    Amanda Wallace is an RA in the Marshall Uppers Apartments, which houses all freshmen this year. She served on the H&DS Advisory Board for two years and said she understands that something must be done to equalize prices, because residence hall prices are rising much faster than apartment prices.

    Wallace said most of her current residents live in apartments and have a meal plan, and that having a meal plan makes the transition to college easier.

    The required meal plan is one of the most debated aspects of the new plans. It would require sophomores in the on-campus apartments to have a meal plan as well.

    “”Second-years who are going to be living in the apartments next year should not be forced to eat the mundane, overpriced and limited food available at the food courts,”” Catcott said. “”It is often much cheaper, healthier and more compatible with schedules to allow people who desire to cook the option to.””

    Catcott said that it would be hard for some sophomores to find time to eat at the dining halls because of schedules that keep them busy until after 8 p.m. She said that this would be problematic because most of the dining halls close before then.

    A.S. Senate Chair and John Muir College house adviser Nick Lieberknecht suggested that H&DS provide an opt-out for students who do not wish to buy a meal plan, which would cater to vegetarians, vegans or health-conscious residents.

    Lieberknecht said he sees the one-contract plan as potentially beneficial for residents, but it has its downfalls.

    “”As someone who has lived in both, it is sad to see residential life take such a parental view over students,”” Lieberknecht said. “”The apartments used to be a wonderful transition to living on one’s own. Unfortunately, that is being taken away.””

    Most of the housing currently under construction and planned for the future is apartments, according to Cunningham said.

    Catcott criticized the construction of apartments if H&DS is not going to allow residents to fully utilize their amenities.

    Many RAs and members of A.S. Council expressed that Cunningham did not allow for enough student input on the program.

    “”I think the proposition is a good idea in many ways, but it’s unfortunate that it came into play so late in the game,”” Wallace said. “”I just wish there could have been more discussion to perfect this idea.””

    Lieberknecht called for an actual contract to be produced so that people would have something to look at before they start to argue.

    “”I think Housing and Dining needs to quit delaying and get the actual contract out to the public,”” Lieberknecht said. “”It is time for the theoretical debate to stop and the actual plan to surface. It is not fair to residents, RAs and HAs to not know what they are getting into next year, especially at this time of preparing for living situations and applying for RA/HA positions.””

    Cunningham stressed that the decision has not yet been made. If the plan is to take effect next year, a decision will need to be made soon; information for housing for continuing students has typically already been distributed by this point of winter quarter, he said.

    “”Timing is probably going to end up driving the whole decision,”” Cunningham said.

    Cunningham said customer service is his primary goal.

    “”Our bottom line is, it doesn’t do us any good to tick off the customer,”” he said. “”If the community doesn’t have time to process [the one-contract plan] and comment on it, then we will have to move on and stick with our traditional program.””

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