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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


    Student Protest Forces University Meal Plan Policy Changes

    Two weeks ago, 50 studentsmarched to Kelly Dining Hall in protest of recent Meal Plan fee increases andaddressed several grievances to the FSA and Dining Services. The protest,headed by SBU student Mendel Julien, forced 4-hour long negations with the FSAconcerning Meal Plan point increases, smaller serving sizes, and other policiesthat students found to be unfair.

    ‘?The problem is,we’re on contract with the school for these things, and we want to beinformed when changes happen. Most students don’t even know how the MealPlan system works and why things have gotten worse,’ Julien said.

    Over the years, Meal Planprices and the cost of food on campus have increased significantly because ofhigher demands in the school from businesses and corresponding economicinflation.

    ‘?Students don’tknow that a $155 activation fee comes off your Meal Plan the first time you useit. If the prices go up, they have to accommodate students’ needsalso,’ Julien added.

    Students raised objectionsto the bi-weekly point sweeping and the lack of refunds for unused points atthe end of each semester. Point sweeping and the Resident Point system wasestablished to encourage students to eat at their residence dining halls.

    ‘?We propose thatpoints should roll over from the Fall semester to the Spring. With the pointsweeping system and unrefunded money, they’re making more money than weknow about,’ claimed Julien. ‘?If we changed the term’?points’ to ‘?dollars’, students would take their MealPlan expenses more seriously.’

    Problems concerning kitchensuites were also brought up with campus officials. Students are pressing for a$500 and $250 Meal Plan option for students with kitchens. With the presentsystem, if kitchen suite residents want a Meal Plan, they must take the lowestone at $1230.

    The FSA has responded to thestudent protest and has been working to change dining conditions on campus.’?We did sit down with the Resolution Board today (Oct. 16) and discussall the issues the students have proposed. We are working to make a lot ofchanges on campus,’ said Lisa Ospitale, Director of Marketing.

    One of the major concernsaddressed by the student group is the decreasing size of take out and servingplates combined with the increased price for food. Last year, the plastictake-out trays were larger, and plates were not used to serve students. Plastictrays were originally substituted with paper plates when the University approachedCampus Dining concerning recycling issues with the non-biodegradable plastic.

    The Resolution Board decidedthat the plastic take-out containers should once again be available behind thelines, in the hands of the servers. ‘?We’re training our employeesto ask if the meal is ‘To stay or to go’, so that students canchoose between plastic trays and paper plates,’ Ospitale said. Thisoption will take effect starting next Wednesday, Campus Dining promised.

    Students also brought forththe issue of vegetarian dining options on Campus. ‘?We need to build upmore vegan and vegetarian options for students. There should be a specificdining area, because places like Harvest Moon cook meat and vegetables on thesame grill,’ Julien said.

    At the Resolution Board, DiningServices announced its plan to accommodate the needs of these students. To newitems, a Protein Chef and Nurtifoods, make completely vegan products, such ascrab cakes, and foods with flavored seasonings. The products were tasted at theResolution meeting that brought students and Campus Dining representativestogether.

    ‘?I’m veryexcited about the possibility of eating healthy vegetarian meals, and nothaving to scrounge for side dishes or toast,’ said Mira Kinariwala, avegetarian sophomore.

    Campus Dining was alsoforced to change its policies on meals cooked with Halal meat. For Muslimstudents that can only eat Halal meat, meals were only served during lunchhours. Students pressed Campus Dining to include these accommodations for othertimes of the day.

    ‘?We’ll haveingredient listings posted with the food on Campus. Now, students can havemeals cooked with Halal meat at The Bridge for dinner. They also have differentmenu options there,’ said Ospitale.

    While the students’movement has brought about changes in the Dining Services provided by theUniversity, Meal Plan changes will take longer to be implemented. ‘?MealPlan changes have to be addressed to the University level planning committees.Those changes won’t happen overnight,’ asserted Ospitale.

    mal>The resolutions to theseissues did not come easily, however. Julien claims that several attempts toadvertise his cause and inform students about the Meal Plan issues werehindered by school officials.

    ‘?They actually triedto squash publicity. One student can’t complain about the issues. If weall stand together, we can change things on campus,’ Julian stressed.

    Campus Dining denied anyinvolvement in withholding information from students. ‘?We’reactually very glad that students came with concerns. We want to help themresolve the situation, we didn’t want it to come to that point,’said Ospitale. ‘?If no one comes to us with problems, we can’t doanything.’

    Julien maintains however,that the FSA and Dining Services do not so enough to inform students that theycan complain about their living and dining conditions. ‘?With these mealplan negotiations, we now have students willing to take serious action if itneeds to be sought,’ he said. He urges students to write to [email protected] if they areinterested in adding their opinions concerns to his movement.

    Campus Dining is working toadvertise the changes that have come forth after these negotiations. Signsabout the Halal meat arrangements and the vegetarian dining options will beposted in dining halls around campus. ‘?If there is a concern, we want towork with our students and assist them in all ways possible. We have a CustomerAdvocate to work with students to address these problems,’ she said. AllCampus Dining complaints should be addressed to Dawn Villaci, the CustomerAdvocate, at 2-9374.

    Campus Residences could not bereached for comments.

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