Allow Saint Mary's Seniors to Opt Out of Meal Plan

Allow Saint Mary's Seniors to Opt Out of Meal Plan

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Grace Kulin started this petition to Saint Mary's College

Students at Saint Mary's urge the administration to reconsider their decision to require seniors (especially those living in the Opus apartments) to purchase meal plans not only for our financial well-being but also for our physical health.

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On Thursday, June 11th, 2020 President of Saint Mary's College, Katie Conboy, announced that Saint Mary's would be switching to Notre Dame Campus Dining beginning in the fall of 2020 to "provide greater value for Saint Mary's Students." This was in response to the fact that dining complaints remained a top concern among students and their parents after continuous efforts to improve the SMC dining experience. This dining change also includes the ability to eat in any Dining Hall or at any place that accepts meal swipes or Flex Points in the tri-campus community. President Conboy also noted that this change would not result in any meal plan price changes for the fall. 

However, Vice President for Strategy and Finance— Diana Strait— sent a follow-up email that announced all SMC seniors living on-campus (including in Opus) would be required to purchase full meal plans for the 2020-2021 academic year. Seniors who elected to live on-campus for their final year made their decision under the impression that they could either purchase a low-cost Belles Blue meal plan or no plan at all. Now, the College has notified seniors with just under two months' notice that they will be required to purchase a full meal plan, costing students an extra $5,150.

In an attempt to make up for this added cost, Residence Life discounting Opus rooms by 5% (meaning about a $524.50 discount for those living in doubles and $449.50 for those living in quads.) Meaning, students living in Opus will still be paying somewhere between $4,625.50 and $4,701 more than they initially planned to. Saint Mary's offered students living in Opus the chance to move off-campus or into a less expensive room on campus without penalty but both options are in limited supply. There is one spot available in rooms ranging from doubles to quints in residence halls for upperclassmen, so moving out of Opus may force students into uncomfortable rooming situations. Thanks to Notre Dame's decision to let students move off-campus before meeting their three-year residency requirement, local apartments are also in short supply. 

Saint Mary's maintains that the decision to require on-campus seniors to purchase a meal plan is for health and safety reasons due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but on-campus seniors will still be going to grocery stores to purchase other apartment essentials (like cleaning, bathroom, and other supplies) in addition to going to the dining hall (somewhere they would not go without a meal plan) to use their 15 meal swipes per week. This means that on-campus seniors will actually come in contact with more people by being required to purchase and use a full meal plan. Many SMC seniors are put in a difficult financial situation due to this meal-plan requirement, in addition to having added worries about their health.

Students at Saint Mary's urge the administration to reconsider their decision to require seniors (especially those living in the Opus apartments) to purchase meal plans not only for our financial well-being but also for our physical health.

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