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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


    Administration Responds to Student Meal Plan Concerns

    Administration Responds to Student Meal Plan Concerns

    A meal plan protest took an unexpected turn last Wednesdaywhen it merged with an anti-war rally on the academic mall. The protestsmarked the National Day of Student/Youth Action.

    A small group of meal plan protestors marched across campus,led by SBU student Mendel Julien, who led a similar march to Kelly Dining Hallin October. The 15 or so students made their way through the SAC diningfacility then toward Administration, chanting, ‘?FSA go away, the foodsucks anyway.’

    Near the fountain on the academicmall, the meal plan complainants ran into a group of students lying on theground beside signs that read ‘?Sanctions keep Hussein strong’ and’?War: not by our will and not in our name.’ The anti-war rally wasorganized by the Coalition Against War, a group whose members oppose militaryaction in Iraq.

    The demonstrators rose to join themeal plan march, and the groups traveled together to President Shirley StrumKenny’s office.

    ‘?We had plans of our own, butwe wanted to build solidarity between coalitions,’ one anti-war protestorsaid.

    Chanting, the students enteredKenny’s office. Kenny and Faculty-Student Association (FSA) PresidentDaniel Melucci emerged and held a brief, private meeting with Julien.

    The group of 30 protestors waitedin the reception area of the President’s office, chanting and givingshort speeches.

    The protestors criticized FSA’smanagement the student meal plans, with complaints ranging from price increasesto the $155 activation fee. One student accused FSA of using’?diversionary tactics’ like the ‘?points’ terminology,which, he said, confuses the dollar amounts spent on food. Many protestorsclaimed to be completely out of meal points.

    Students also complained of pointsweeping, a practice which requires that students spend a minimum number ofmeal points every two weeks. Melucci said that the practice affects only 380of the 6000 students with meal plans. For these 380 students, he said, theaverage amount lost is 21 dollars.

    The spontaneous union the ofanti-war and meal plan movements made for an unusual protest, with chants of’?more food, less war!’ The student wearing the President Bush maskspoke, saying ‘?I feel your pain, but unfortunately, I need to divest themoney from your meal plan and spend it on bombs.’ One student wore a signreading, ‘?1/4 of children in Iraq under 5 are malnourished.’

    Conversation focused mainly on themeal plan, however. Melucci said encouraged students to become involved withthe FSA Meal Plan Resolution Committee, which is a student-faculty groupresponsible for making some campus dining decisions. The committee is chairedby undergraduate student Melanie Luk. Minutes from committee meetings areavailable from Ken Johnson at the FSA business office on the second floor ofthe Union.

    Melucci recommended that thecommittee be used to provide feedback to administration.

    But student protestors counteredthat the committee is not representative of the student body, calling it a’?secret society’.

    Kenny emerged from the meetingwith Julien and said that the protest’s leaders had made some validarguments and presented their griped ‘?convincingly.’

    ‘?Your voices areheard,’ Kenny told the group. ‘?But we have to work out thedetails.’

    In a later meeting with Statesman,Melucci said that as of Wednesday, only 26 of the 6000 students with meal planshave a balance of zero. Melucci, who said he has been deeply involved inconstructing the meal plan at Stony Brook for the past six years, said that theproblems today aren’t as serious as they have been in the past. FSA isconsidering hiring a professional polling company to obtain meaningful datafrom a larger sample of students, he said.

    With so many dining facilities andno one central kitchen, dining operations on campus are very expensive to run,Melucci said. Canceling the $155 activation fee would mean a loss of nearly $1million from a $14 million operation, he said.

    ‘?The folks who are upset noware looking for major structural change, but that just can’t be donequickly, he said. ‘?If you make mistakes, it takes a long time to fixthem. The bottom line here is that we want students to be happy with the mealplan.’

    The Coalition Against War meetsFridays at 3 p.m. in SAC 309.

    The FSA Meal Plan ResolutionCommittee meets Wednesdays at 1 p.m. during Campus Lifetime in the KellyConference Room. All are welcome to attend.

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