The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

48° Stony Brook, NY
The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


    Excessive Campus Meal Plan Options Restrict Students

    Added to most students’ meal plan is a charge of several hundred dollars, used to maintain and renovate dining halls on campus. On the minimum resident plan of $1,430, nearly $270 goes to this Facility Fee. Commuters contribute to this fee as well, to varying degrees, with the Commuter Meal Plans offered by the Faculty Student Association. However, if a student pays $1,000 for food in cash, they pay only $86.25 in Suffolk County sales tax, compared with a much higher cost for the Facility Fee.

    The maintenance and renovation of dining facilities relies upon the Facility Fee, much in the way that room and board monies pay for the physical upkeep of the residence halls on campus. ‘Campus Dining is not university funded at all. All costs are covered by student meal plan payments,’ said Lisa Ospitale, Director of Marketing and Communications of Campus Dining Services.

    The Stony Brook Facility Fee is less than some other colleges, including Westminster College at $550 and SUNY Geneseo at $330.

    Ospitale maintains that ‘the meal plan does offer students convenience ‘- they don’t have to carry cash around.’

    According to Ospitale, the Facility Fee is being put to good use. ‘The renovations planned for EOB, the Bleacher Club, and Roth Dining are funded by this Facility Fee. We need to maintain our existing facilities as well,’ said Ospitale.

    Continuing dissatisfaction among students led to the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) Reform Party to make meal plan reform a centerpiece of their agenda. The FSA, at the urging of the USG, is currently negotiating an off campus points system, called Campus Cash. Students will be able to allocate a certain amount of money to an off campus debit account that can be used at approved vendors.

    ‘This is one of the aspects of the campus points system we felt we could really work on, and the FSA seems actually excited about it,’ said Rob Romano, President Pro-Tempore of the USG Senate and former Chair of the USG Reform Party. ‘If it wasn’t for [USG] President Jean-Baptiste, we wouldn’t be seeing this program right now.’

    Student complaints regarding the campus points system do not end at the Facility Fee. Students on meal plans must spend at least $40 every other Wednesday. Money is deducted biweekly if residents do not spend that minimum, up to $40. The Campus Dining Services does this as a benefit to students, helping them to manage their remaining balance better, according to Ospitale.

    ‘Of the resident students on campus, in the last two weeks only $200 worth of points was forfeited. So this is only a minor issue that doesn’t affect many students at all,’ said Agnello. Ospitale added, ‘At this point in time, very few students are in this situation.’

    ‘That’s bullsh-t,’ said Romano. ‘There must be a better way than taking money away from students.’

    Not all students are convinced that the current meal plan situation is optimal. Junior Thomas Gordon commented, ‘My meal points don’t even last for a semester.’

    Junior Ivan Dragosky, a resident on the Silver Meal Plan, complained about his inability to get through the semester before running out of meal points. The Silver Meal Plan is comprised of 860 Campus Points and 400 Flex Credits and costs $1530. ‘There has to be a better way,’ Dragosky said.

    Previous to this current system of declining balances, Stony Brook employed a carte blanche, or buffet-style, point system. Much like the brunch at Kelly on the weekends, under the previous system students paid entrance fees into a facilities and gained access to all-you-can-eat buffets. In 1998, partly due to rising student dissatisfaction, the University negotiated the current declining balance system with Chartwells.

    Romano, having spent time at SUNY New Paltz, was impressed by their hybrid carte blanche ‘- declining balance system. ‘We thought it was pretty cool,’ Romano said. He would like to see more buffet-style facilities on this campus as well.

    Cate Contino, Program Director of NYPIRG, responded to Campus Dining’s indirect communication with Stony Brook students by citing the ‘need to see transparency in their operations.’ She continued to say that ‘this is important in order to promote dialogue and eventually see improvements.’

    Romano echoed this opinion, saying, ‘Students need to keep advocating for their interests. The FSA is far more receptive than most students imagine.’

    Leave a Comment
    Donate to The Statesman

    Your donation will support the student journalists of Stony Brook University. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

    More to Discover
    Donate to The Statesman

    Comments (0)

    All The Statesman Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *