This Sunday, Student Union Vice President Charlotte Franco ’15 sent a campuswide email announcing new meal plan options for the 2015 to 2016 academic year. The new meal plans, she wrote, are the result of discussions between the Student Union, Sodexo and the University administration. 

While the announcement is indeed the result of greater student input on meal plan options--something that students have sought after for years and even protested for this fall—this board finds the new meal options problematic due to their mandatory nature and surprisingly high price increases. 

Shortly after the University welcomed Sodexo as its new dining provider after its contract with Aramark ended two years ago, it established a new set of dining plans for students and announced that meal plan purchases would become mandatory for the entire undergraduate student body—a decision in which students did not have a say. 

This board vehemently opposes mandatory meal plan purchases. Many on-campus housing options—the Foster Mods, the Charles River Apartments and Ridgewood Quad—have fully functional kitchens. Making meal plans mandatory instead of an option for students not only puts extra financial stress on them but also is simply unnecessary. 

The policy is particularly problematic to students in the Charles River Apartments, who live off of the main campus and end up paying for meals they may not end up consuming. Particularly in the wake of this year’s heavy snowfall, we question how many students in this complex will be willing to walk to a campus dining location for dinner just to use their meal plan efficiently.

This board takes issue with the unusually high yearly price increases under Sodexo. 

Data collected from Internet Archive shows that prices usually rose between $50 and $30 per year under Aramark’s administration in the 2011 to 2012 and 2012 to 2013 school years.

 Meal plans of similar relative value to this year’s options are increasing by roughly $100 next year, which itself comes after $100 hikes from last year’s transition from Aramark to Sodexo. 

This board asks the University to answer why these significant price increases are occurring, especially now that this additional cost is mandatory for all students living on campus.

While student involvement in the meal plan negotiation process is praiseworthy, we ask the University to further inform students where their money is going, especially given their recent loss of a choice about whether to purchase a meal plan if they live on campus.