The new meal plan system is built on unreasonable expectations of student schedules, arrogant assumptions that students can simply pay more to be able to eat more than once a day as they were before, and a lack of consideration of student opinions.
My name is Alex Parker and I am currently a sophomore living on campus. Regarding the new dining plan system, I don't know where to begin with how dissatisfied I am along with many of the other students I have talked to.
I used the $1200/semester plan last year, and felt like I could comfortably afford breakfast, lunch, and dinner along with any late night snacks or last minute groceries I needed. Because the dining plan is required for sophomores on campus, for reasons I do not understand, I was automatically signed up for the Howdy plan, which, after over a $100 price jump, I am getting less out of. I have called the dining offices and tried to understand the blatant “paying more for less” scheme, and no one has been able to justify this price increase. Instead I was told to simply increase my meal plan to the Fish option.
I'm not sure which demographic these people assume they are working with, because surely it's not the average college student, because the average college student cannot simply pay hundreds of dollars more per semester to eat more than one meal a day as they were able to previously.
Aside from the outrageous costs of the new meal plans, the structure of the plans is heinously inconvenient if not entirely impractical. To limit a student's dining options to establishments that accept the “meal trade”, and then furthermore restrict the times when eating is allowed, and beyond that, to limit what you are able to order once you pinpoint your few remaining options is inconceivably controlling and just illogical.
And as if these regulations are not Big Brother style enough, we are not only restricted by what time it is, but by whatever time the TAMU register system says it is. For example, I went to Rev's promptly at 8:00 pm (after having made the mistake of coming at 6:15 pm days before and not being able to use my meal plan of course) expecting to be able to pick up my dinner and get to a meeting on time. However, upon approaching the register, a student had to clarify, since it was now past 8:00 pm, surely she could use her meal trade here? And in turn she was told that the registers' clocks were behind and only read 7:47 pm, so we would have to wait until the register could catch up before we could use our meal trades. To clarify: we were waiting on the registers' clocks to tell us when we could use our own money that the university was going to absorb upon our purchase either way.
To continue, to be told that snacks and late night meals (beyond the one meal you are allowed on the Howdy plan of course) can be simply paid for in Dining Dollars, is beyond ignorant. Last year, I would always drink water with my meals and use the dining dollars I would have otherwise spent on a fountain drink to pay for a simple muffin or the like for breakfast. Now, the mere $100 I am allowed for the entire semester will not cover even half a muffin for breakfast for very long, and I still end up paying fountain drink price for a cup of water, which used to be free.
And now that keeping track of your used meals is so vital, considering entire meals will be lost if not used within the month, I find it ridiculous that the interface on the Howdy dining website continues to miscount the number of meals students have used. Are we to expect that this supposed interface issue isn't going to cut off our meal supply once the counter reaches its limit, even if we haven't eaten these meals yet?
The new plans clearly favor the major dining halls, Sbisa and Duncan, but the practicality of students eating there for every meal to get anything near their money's worth is near nonexistant. The smaller locations on campus, such as Azimuth and Smoothie King, whose menus do not entirely or if at all qualify for meal trades are sure to suffer at the expense of the major dining halls, an outcome that surely must have been considered and I would assume blatantly overlooked.
All of the above considered, I see absolutely no reason for this change in dining policy to have taken place, and frankly I find it oppressive, a waste of student money and a hilarious attempt at trying to simplify the dining process. (Because of course, why have students budget their dining dollars throughout the semester, it's not like budgeting is a life skill, right?)
I have reached my end with this new dining system, and it is currently Day 2 of the new semester. My hopes with this letter are not to be offensive, but to make clear a point that is very relevant to the student body. The new meal plan system is built on unreasonable expectations of student schedules, arrogant assumptions that students can simply pay more to be able to eat more than once a day as they were before, and a seeming lack of consideration of student opinions. I am hoping that through this petition, the new meal plan be reconsidered if not completely reverted back to the previous dining dollar only system.