“Ugh. Leo’s again.” What to eat, what to eat? Questionable chicken? Flavorless desserts? Scrambled egg-like liquid for the 90th morning in a row?

We’ve all been there. We’ve all complained. We’ve all gone out to eat just to avoid the bland pasta. The fact of the matter is, having a two-year mandatory meal plan is unjust, unnecessary and a profound hindrance to our dining options.

But, why should O’Donovan Hall change anything if they know that we’re being forced into buying meal plans anyway? What motivation do they have to improve? If you’ve taken any introductory economics course, you’ll recognize that this is starting to sound like one of our favorite vocabulary words: monopoly.

As stated on the Dining Services website, “Financial Need is not an allowable reason for exemption” from the meal plan requirement, arguing that dining is an expense that is already factored into Georgetown’s financial aid packages. The numbers don’t lie: assuming every single meal is used, someone who has a 10 meals per week plan pays roughly $11 per meal. But no matter what your financial aid total is, we still deserve to have the choice to buy meals cheaper than $11. Any college student would struggle to pay that and deserves better options.

Think about the shortened weeks in the year, like Easter or Thanksgiving break, during which Leo’s shuts down completely. Or when you dare to hunger between 10 and 11 a.m. or around 3 p.m., when the selection could be described only as “delightfully desolate,” and we are all forced to look elsewhere. Or when you have a Saturday morning final at 9 a.m., and have nowhere to go for breakfast because Leo’s doesn’t open until 9:30 a.m. on Saturdays, even during exams. Think about those weeks when you didn’t even come close to using all of your meal swipes.

My point is simple: We could and should be getting much better quality and value for the money we pay to eat at Leo’s.

Of course Leo’s has its positive aspects; I commend its widely advertised gluten-free section — “ranked #2 in the country!” — that serves a small portion of the student body’s needs.

Forget about numbers. Forget about opinions. Forget about personal dining preferences. Forcing us to buy from one vendor for two years is simply a monopoly that takes advantage of us students. It is fundamentally, innately, inherently wrong.

And why exactly are we tolerating a monopoly? There must be a logical reason for this, right? It’s something that has to do with numbers and indisputable facts, right?

Not really. The Georgetown website says that, “Taking meals together helps develop community.” That cheesy line is supposed to explain why I have to tolerate a monopoly, infringed student rights and bland pasta?

I, for one, need a better reason for why I absolutely must pay $11 per meal for some scrambled eggs and an apple, and why I am an adult who is not allowed to spend my food budget wherever I find it will do me the most good. It doesn’t make sense that we are being manipulated to buy for food that we don’t want in the first place, simply because we decided to pursue a college education.

The fix is simple: take away the meal plan requirement for underclassmen, or at least let us switch to more flexible options — like the block plans. This is a nation built on options, on value and on common sense. Tight budgets aside, we are adults with voices that deserve to be heard.

Melina Delkic is a rising sophomore in the College. Year One-And-A-Half appears every Wednesday at thehoya.com.

One Comment

  1. Anonymous says:

    It’s clear, isn’t it? The mandatory two year meal plan is a money grab by the University, and given the latest tuition hike (almost 5 percent next year), I don’t see Georgetown having the funds to build a new dining hall or even changing the policy anytime soon (but we can always dream of Epi, right?). Also, spreading hyperboles about the dining hall food doesn’t do Leo’s justice – the food really isn’t that bad. At all.

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