More Meal Points? You Can’t Be Serious

Zachary Watson/Guardian

You’d think that — after an enormous systemwide student-fee increase and pleas for money to save the Loft and our transportation department — the last on-campus business to ask for more money would be the only one that turns a profit.

However, in a discrete effort to pad their lucrative business, Housing, Dining and Hospitality now has the audacity to ask for a $100 meal-point increase, potentially affecting over 7,000 on-campus residents. It’s been deliberately kept under wraps, along with the fact that, if passed, it would represent the fifth consecutive year meal points have been upped.

Four years ago, someone living in a res. hall would pay $1,800 per year for meal points. Since then, that sum has increased to $2,795 — $1,000 more in prepaid cash that can only be used to purchase mediocre Cafe V sushi, $10 boxes of strawberries and overpriced toasters. Not exactly a diet our mothers would approve of.

Nevermind the fact that most students don’t know what to do with the already enormous heap of points they’re allotted. According to data from a HDH survey this year, of 3,517 residents, 372 have fewer meal points than they need, 515 have just enough and a whopping 2,630 students — nearly 75 percent — have too many.

Survey results for apartment dwellers are equally telling. Of the 4,345 students in the apartments required to purchase a $2,145 dining plan, 1,007 students had too many points, while 1,697 had just enough.

And despite all that extra money, dining-hall hours have already been reduced — a tragic cut for overcaffeinated students studying into the wee hours of the night — and there’s hardly a healthy option in sight, aside from a pitiful selection of produce that costs twice as much as it would at Ralphs.

Not to mention, a massive amount of prepaid dollars encourages students to spend irresponsibly. If we don’t all blow our dining dollars on Natural juices now, we’ll just be rushing to Roger’s Place the last week of Spring Quarter to throw whatever’s left into a toaster oven or an inflatable couch.

Of course, even though students are already overpaying for mediocre, unhealthy food and constantly shrinking choices, dining officials aren’t hesitating to turn to the students for a little extra cash. Student representative for the On-Campus Housing and Dining Committee Wafa Ben Hassine cited a 4-percent union-mandated salary increase as the reason for this $100 hike, but just because workers serve us in the dining hall, doesn’t mean it’s our job to foot the bill every time their agreements grant them more pay.

The one beacon of hope in the face of HDH’s shady plan is that the committee voting on the proposal tomorrow is mostly student-run. However, the students are being threatened with closures and a reduction in hours, bringing us to a fundamental issue that’s come up one too many times this year: When the university needs funding, it turns to student fees as an easy out, rather than as a last resort.

Before sticking incoming freshmen with another mandatory fee, HDH should go back to the drawing board and investigate its options. We don’t feel the department has gone to great enough lengths to determine student consensus on the issue — and clearly, if nearly three-quarters of res.-hall inhabitants aren’t even using up their current meal plans, there’s not much need for an increased midnight-burrito-run allowance. Here’s yet another instance of an administrative proposal that would drastically impact the student body, flying way under the radar — one which, without demonstrated need, no amount of administrative excuse-making can justify.