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Students still unhappy with meal plan

Students can swipe in multiple times each time block. (Maria Cedeño / Staff Photographer)

Campus dining has gone through a whirlwind of changes in the last two years, but according to a Sandspur survey, students are still unhappy.

In a campus-wide survey of 128 students, 60 percent of students had a negative view of the new swipe system. The survey was taken by primarily upperclassmen who were able to compare the new system to the the previous one. Only six percent of respondents were freshmen. 

Approximately 54 percent of students responded that the swipe system is what they disliked most about the new plan. They much preferred when there was only one form of currency for food. Students noted the food quality as being the next thing they disliked. 

Rather than paying a flat rate entrance fee, admittance to the Marketplace is now achieved by swiping in, a new feature as of this fall. The move from an entrance fee to swiping, which was implemented at the start of this semester, is the most notable change to the meal plan this year.

There are four different options to pick from for swipes per week: five, 10, 15, or unlimited swipes. There are three main dining blocks during the day, with continuous hours during those blocks to bridge the time gap between each main meal. 

If a student swipes to enter for breakfast, they can leave and return an unlimited amount of times within that same block. In The Sandspur’s survey, 57 percent of students said the service hours is what they like the most about the plan.

However, once the meal block changes, they must use another swipe for entry.

Purchases made at other on-campus dining options are now deducted from students’ dining dollars or TarBUC$ funds.

According to the responses received from the survey, the five and 10 swipes meal plans are among the most popular. One of the biggest critiques among students in regard to the five and 10 block plans is that they do not have enough swipes each week. 

“Unfortunately,” said Maurice Maduro, a graduate student working at Dining Services, “meal blocks do not roll over. They reset every Monday morning.”

With switching to the swipe system, the amount of funds allocated toward cafe purchases has seemingly decreased. In theory, this new method is meant to encourage students with a meal plan to eat at the Marketplace more often than at on-campus cafes. In practice, students are noticing a lack of variety in their daily meals. 

“I dislike how [Dining Services] made meal blocks and dining dollars separate. If you have to pay $10 to get into the Marketplace when your dining blocks run out for the week, why not just have dining dollars instead of having two separate forms of currency? It is much more confusing,” said Landon Higginbotham (‘22). 

In the anonymous survey, some students left customized answers relating to their concerns with the meal plan. One observation was that most students do not return to the Campus Center multiple times during the same block, making them feel like they are paying more money for the same meal plan they had last year.

Some students, though, do have favorable opinions of the new dining plan. Emma Morgan (‘21) said, “I’m in favor of the new system, despite recognizing some of its flaws, because it provides much flexibility for students throughout the day. I feel as though it helps me budget more effectively, both timewise and financially.”

Guests and off-campus students without meal plans can use an on-campus student’s guest pass. 

Students with the five block plan are alloted five guest passes per semester, and students with the 10, 15, and unlimited block plans are allotted 10 guest passes per semester.

At this time, students are unable to change their block plan; the deadline to switch meal plans was Sept. 6. 

“To check how many swipes you have left for the week, students can email for information. Dining Services is currently working on a mobile solution and a way for students to determine it [amount of swipes left] on location in the Marketplace,” said Maduro.

This is the second year in a row Rollins has made major dining plan changes, and still there is no major satisfaction. 

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