January 29, 2001

S.A. Discusses New Meal Plans

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The Dining Committee presented a new meal plan for the next academic year, which includes enhanced features and a six percent price increase, at last Thursday’s Student Assembly (S.A.) meeting. The assembly also considered possible modifications to the 2003-05 academic calenders so classes would not meet on Labor Day.

“The [meal plan] price increases are not due to increases in services necessarily,” said S.A. representative Dan Orcutt ’03, a Dining Committee member. “In some cases it is that Cornell Dining is trying to offer the best services, but it is also trying to get back on stable financial ground.”

At the end of last year, Cornell Dining had a $1 million debt mainly due to overly generous meal plan options, particularly the meal equivalency option, which had much more of a cost than anticipated, Orcutt said.

The proposed increase for next year’s options, which is the same percent seen in this year’s price hikes, is in light of this debt as well as the meal plan enhancements, as well as several needed facility renovations, including upgrading equipment at Okenshield’s and adding 400 seats to Trilium, according to Orcutt. However, he stressed that “Cornell Dining is not for profit; they run to break even.”

Currently, Cornell’s average meal plan cost is the second cheapest, behind only Columbia in the Ivy League, according to S.A. President Uzo Asonye ’02.

Changes to the meal options include a new Super Flex option with which students would have unlimited access to all-you-can-eat facilities and meal equivalency options at late-night locations until closing. Currently facilities offering late-night will only accept meal equivalencies until 10:30 p.m., according to Asonye.

But students may not like the additional $40 per semester they will have to pay to use this late-night option, he added. However Orcutt said that the Dining Committee is working out a plan for next spring that would allow students to use the late-night option until closing without additional charges.

Other changes to the plans include adding an additional three meal equivalencies per week to the Any 5, 7 or 10 meal plan options for $150, which can be purchased by using the Big Red Bucks that come with the plan. Students would also to be able to use Big Red Bucks at the Dairy Bar and at Olin Library, which will serve coffee and home-baked products, according to Asonye.

Orcutt said that he does not expect that the new proposals alone will solve the cost issues, but he said that he feels it is the best plan the committee could develop for next year’s meal options. He expects the S.A. to vote in favor of the new meal plan at their meeting Thursday.

The S.A. also listened to two proposals by the Faculty Senate Committee for Education Policies regarding scheduling classes on Labor Day. The first option would be for Cornell to keep the current calender and continue to hold classes on the holiday. However, professors could make arrangements for students who wanted to participate in activities honoring the day, such as those sponsored by the School of Industrial and Labor Relations, Asonye said.

The other option “hinges on reducing a day of registration through technological advances,” such that fall semester classes would begin on a Wednesday, rather than the traditional Thursday, Asonye explained. Students would then have Labor Day off.

The S.A. is divided on this issue and will vote on it during their Thursday meeting.

Prior to that gathering, the assembly will hold a special meeting tomorrow, during which they will choose a director of elections and hear updates from the different S.A. committees. That meeting is scheduled to take place from 6 to 8 p.m. in the North Room of the Straight.

Archived article by Christen Aragoni