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USUAA bill attempts to end required meal plans mealplan_5 Full view

USUAA bill attempts to end required meal plans

Some members of USUAA have introduced legislation attempting to force the Resident Hall Housing Department to give students living in residence halls the option to refuse a meal plan. University officials say the requirement is not going away, and that its absence would only drive meal prices up.

Senator Esdras Jean unveiled “Bogus Meal Plan 12-05” on September 8.

The bill had twelve reasons why the meal plan is flawed, and called for three changes. The second call for change summarized the overall goal of the bill:

“Therefore be it hereby enacted/ resolved: the UAA Resident Hall Housing Department changes the policy to where it can be up to the student to opt out of the meal plan and have the freedom to spend the money wherever they please.”

Meal plans are required for students living in one of the three residence halls, and range from $1700 to $1900 per semester.

Jean said in an email that he has heard many complaints from students, though as of September 9th, the bill gained little support from other USUAA senators.

The bill will be discussed formally on September 16 during USUAA’s weekly meeting.

USUAA President Ryan Buchholdt noted some faults in

the bill. “I understand the concern. I don’t necessarily appreciate the approach taken. I think it could’ve used more analysis of Housing and Department of Residential Life to find out why this change is necessary,” Buchholdt said.

The bill claims that “The Resident Hall Housing Department at UAA has added in an option to the package of living at the Resident Hall to buy a meal plan WITHOUT the option to opt out on the plan or allow a refund.”

There have been no changes to the meal plan in the last year. The last major change was in 1998.

Debra Lovaas, the director of University Housing, Dining & Conference Services, said there is no new change in the meal plan, the refund policy, or those who are required to buy it.

“Mandatory meal plans for all students who live in the Residence Halls where there are no kitchen facilities has been a policy since 1998 when the halls were built and occupied. Most colleges have this policy – it is not unusual and will not be changing in the near future,” Lovass said.

The option to decline the meal plan has already occurred before 1998, according to Bob McDonnell, the director of UAA Business Services.

Before 1998, UAA operated everything independently, so they did not have to follow the contract model, which requires schools to offer several companies a projected a revenue for the acknowledge what’s needed then work toward a solution,” Buchholdt said.

“I’m not sure he’s upset with the meal plan as much as the establishment,” McDonnell said.

Jean did include a reconciliatory gesture in the bill he wrote:

“Be it hereby enacted/resolved:

If the UAA Resident Hall and Housing Department and the students of UAA can come together and compromise and have a committee of both parties to meet and resolve this problem before it gets worse,” the bill concluded.

A new partnership among Alaska schools could help improve “distance education” in the state, ultimately providing students in remote areas the classes they need to qualify for a new state scholarship program.

The next steps for Alaska’s Learning Network, the school consortium that has begun offering online classes, will be discussed by an advisory board later this month. Significant challenges remain, including the needs for funding to maintain and expand the program, now working under a one-year startup grant. Less than reliable Internet connectivity in parts of rural Alaska also remains an issue.

semester. When UAA was not on contract, students had the option to decline a meal plan. McDonnell said it was difficult for the university to accommodate growing needs acting independently and without a contract.

“It was too expensive to operate ourselves, and that’s why we went out to bid. We went with someone who bid the lowest because we want the best pricing available for students,” McDonnell said.

Sodexo, one of the largest food services in the world, and NMS, a local Alaska Native Corporation, operate the current contract.

“We are pleased with the service they provide us, but are always open to ideas for improvements and if feasible, will certainly work to incorporate those changes to our program. Unfortunately, discontinuing mandatory meal plans for students in the Residence Halls is not an option at this time,” Lovass said.

Freshman and sophomores do have the option to live in one of the apartment buildings that does not require them to purchase a meal plan. McDonnell said that there are pockets of freshman in Mac apartments, and that athletic teams are actually encouraged to do so. Buchholdt is working on connecting the governance board with business services. The arrangement would let students give feedback directly to business services, incluing parking services, the bookstore, and resident life. He said that he hopes this platform would give directors the chance to relate what’s happening in their department and why it’s necessary.

“I like (“bogus meal plan”) to the torch and pitch fork approach. We get excited by an issue and want to charge forward, but the best way to change is speak to administrators so they acknowledge what’s needed then work toward a solution,” Buchholdt said.

“I’m not sure he’s upset with the meal plan as much as the establishment,” McDonnell said.

Jean did include a reconciliatory gesture in the bill he wrote:

“Be it hereby enacted/resolved:

If the UAA Resident Hall and Housing Department and the students of UAA can come together and compromise and have a committee of both parties to meet and resolve this problem before it gets worse,” the bill concluded.

 

Written by Matt

2 Comments

  • Come on guys, you guys know I’m RIGHT! You don’t all have to say it at once. I know 95.5% of student have complaint countless number of times about how crappy the food service contract is.

    • I honestly feel the Bill was poorly written,it goes to much off opinion and the lack of research on the bill is apparent in the word usage, and grammar.

      PS. This is not a proper bill, in the USUAA structure Bill’s deal with money request’s. This would be better as a resolution, but not by much.

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