FILE PHOTO: ALEXANDER BROWN/THE HOYA The university is considering requiring students to purchase a meal plan for three years, an extension of the current two-year mandate.
FILE PHOTO: ALEXANDER BROWN/THE HOYA
The university is considering requiring students to purchase a meal plan for three years, an extension of the current two-year mandate.

The university is considering implementing a third-year meal plan requirement, according to a press release issued by the Georgetown University Student Association on Wednesday. The announcement was met with dissent from many students, leading to an IdeaScale petition against the plan that had amassed over 450 student signatures by press time.

GUSA President Trevor Tezel (SFS ’15) and Vice President Omika Jikaria (SFS ’15) said that administrators informed them of the proposal at the end of September.

GUSA’s press release outlined Tezel and Jikaria’s disapproval of the plan, which they said would add to pre-existing problems at O’Donovan Hall, including overcrowding, lack of accommodations for kosher and gluten-free students and problems with adhering to the Title IX non-contact directives.

“I wouldn’t view any of these particular angles to the issue in isolation,” Tezel said. “I think what it instead shows is that this is a policy change that doesn’t just hurt one aspect of student life. This is multi-dimensional.”

Under Title IX, universities must be able to make accommodations to prevent accused students from making contact with survivors of sexual harassment or sexual assault.

According to Tezel, the proposed plan also raises concerns about increased tuition and the effects on students with demonstrated financial need. Currently, the least expensive meal plan option is the 60-meal block plan, which costs $885, including $60 in Flex dollars, per semester.

“Even if we are talking about full Flex dollar plans for juniors, that’s still a tuition increase, because you are forcing them to frequent a certain set of businesses that might be out of that student’s budget,” Tezel said.

Associate Vice President of Auxiliary Services Joelle Wiese declined to comment on why the university is considering this plan, but said that the university will engage students as it makes its future decisions.

Tezel said that he believes the university is considering a three-year meal plan mandate in order to increase profits due to losses from construction projects and to encourage students to spend more time on campus.

“The most apparent one is the need need for additional revenue. I think what this says for the administration is that we are on a tight budget because we are spending a lot on projects in order to comply with our latest campus plan,” Tezel said. “I also think, to that same end, it shows an interest in promoting the ideals of the 2010 Campus Plan, of focusing more on getting students back on campus.”

The university announced in the spring that students will be required to live in on-campus housing for three years, beginning with the Class of 2017. Previously, students were obligated to live on campus for two years.

According to Wiese, the administration is discussing a variety of options and taking student opinion into account. Wiese cited the Bulldog Tavern, Hoya Court renovations and Einstein Bros Bagels meal exchange program as examples of administrators and students working in tandem to develop meal options in the past.

“We know the dining experience is a central component of student life,” Wiese wrote in an email. “In the coming weeks, we will be holding forums, food committee meetings and other discussions to ensure students have a role in addressing changing food needs on campus as we build a more vibrant living and learning community on our historic campus.”

Tezel said that he has noticed an improvement in student-administrator communication, but that this situation will test the newly formed relationship.

“The relationship between Auxiliary Services and students has improved from where it was a few years ago,” Tezel said. “I don’t want to lose sight of that, but I think this is an important test to see whether or not, when push comes to shove, that feedback that those offices prioritize is really being heard.”

GUSA senator Peter Cohen (COL ’15) created an IdeaScale petition Wednesday against the proposed plan entitled “Defend Students’ Rights to Choose How to Eat.” Cohen attributes the number of student signatures to the universal disapproval of the plan.

“I hope that we stop this proposal in its tracks,” Cohen said. “This is concrete proof of already a self-evident fact that the student body doesn’t want this, that people are already pretty unsatisfied with Leo’s and loathe the idea of being forced to eat there as it is.”

Cohen said a three-year meal plan mandate will diminish the student experience on campus, devaluing Georgetown as a whole.

“It doesn’t personally affect my dining, but I think it absolutely still does affect me,” Cohen said. “If the university keeps suggesting such incredibly unpopular changes and if it doesn’t always seem that they’re taking the students’ best interest into account with the new campus plan and the new proposal, people are going to stop wanting to come to Georgetown.”

Matt Donovan (SFS ’17) eats at Leo’s regularly, but said that he hopes the university can find a better way to make a profit while maintaining student freedom in food choices.

“I think it’s a really lazy solution to a problem,” Donovan said. “It’s pretty obvious that Leo’s needs some sort of fix. It’s overcrowded and the food isn’t very good, but I think the administration needs to actually do their job. If Leo’s is hemorrhaging money, they need to find some sort of innovative solution rather than make the students shoulder an increased financial burden.”

Tezel said that GUSA hopes to work with Auxiliary Services in the upcoming weeks to find a solution to the potential of a third-year meal plan requirement, but also to make substantive changes to the eating experience at O’Donovan Hall.

“We see this as all part of the same conversation,” Tezel said. “What I’m hoping is that as we start to hopefully come to a resolution on a third-year meal plan requirement, that it can be done so along with new initiatives for campus dining that would improve student life.”

Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.

3 Comments

  1. This is all because of 3 major issues, the renovation project, employee union & the contract between Aramark & Auxiliary services. When the main renovations were planned, Aramark actually had an amazing concept planned to retro-fit Leo’s into a model like some of the other more successful university dining programs i.e. University of Scranton. But Auxiliary Services and Margie Bryant felt it was more important to paint that mural on the wall on the upper level. They took money from your rebuild for that dumb painting. Also (I do not have the proof) but what was pitched as a rebuild by Aramark was changed during construction and almost at the last minute which is why you have cheesy portable units everywhere. Someone lied and dropped the ball I just don’t know who. The second issue is the contract. Every university and its food provider have a contract that is tiered over 3-6 years. Companies like Sodexo, Compass Group and Aramark all pitch wonderful programs for the first few years but then have to scale back when the bottom line changes in years 3-6, thus the constant changes in food, labor and meal plans. The 3rd issue is the union. Whoever championed the installment of the union both students and employees should be ashamed. Food unions are the worst unions on the planet. The employees at Georgetown were treated very well. Many of them made anywhere from 13-22 dollars an hour, had up to 8 call-out days without even a written notice, summers off if they choose and vacation, shutdown days and various holidays off. You people destroyed that when you put the union in. A food service union does nothing but lower quality of the food, lower the quality of the management team and build a lack of communication between employees and managers. It’s the worst. So to sum it all up……it’s everyone’s fault….Aramarks, Auxiliary Services & both the employees and the students who fought for the union without understanding how it works. Oh and FYI the nurovirus you all got was a direct result of cutting labor. The grab & go sandwiches were made from scratch daily until management cut the staff and contracted a national company to provide the salads & sandwiches that next year. The same company provided salads & sandwiches to USC. Both campuses used that service and both campuses had nurovirus within 2 weeks of each other. I don’t know how everyone got out of that without blame but it was only then they decided to cut that company out and make them again. The company has sinced went belly up I believe.

  2. @Ned
    A food service union lowers the quality of the management team because they do not want to deal with the daily restrictions & grief imposed by the union i.e. hours worked, call-outs, seniority on job tasks etc… Their hands are tied at all times which has experienced “hands on” managers looking for transfers out or job changes and leaves behind a team that becomes reclusive and just goes through the motions. A union creates a divide between management & employees and the students suffer the end result by poor service.

    As for the original posters comment about the treatment of the employees he is 100 percent right. Georgetown never needed a union. Those employees were treated very fair and made way above the industry standard for entry level food service jobs with limited education and skill sets. They could often be seen smoking on the loading docks and wasting up to 2 hours a day wandering Leo’s & taking multiple breaks.

    Some college graduates in this country can’t get jobs that pay 18 dollars an hour with their degrees. I personally know of at least 15 employees that make over 15 an hour on campus right now. You obviously have no clue what you are talking about. Every campus dining account with a food service union in this country is poorly rated. The top campus dining programs in the country do not have unions. This is not Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle”. Nobody is beating them while making them sweep bloody meat filled floors in a 120 degree warehouse. They make 15 bucks an hour to serve you premade pizza shells, omelets & burgers. Up and coming cooks working in upscale bistros busting their hump until 2am every night don’t make that kind of money to start.

Leave a Reply

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

*