Dining Sercices (at my University)

Here’s your legend: I go to the University of Alabama. Another name for it is “The Capstone.” The “CW” is the local newspaper.

Since my introduction to the Capstone, I have seen nothing short of ruthless profit mongering from the University and Dining Services. The available meal plans, introduced to us impressionable incoming freshmen at every orientation, are a deception of profiteering under the guise of affordable, healthy eating.

As quoted in an article from Wednesday’s CW, President Witt has decreed all incoming freshmen are required to purchase 160 meals per semester at the cost of $990. This translates into nine meals per week, or 6.20 per meal. One meal purchased with this meal plan at the Fresh Food Company--campus’s most expensive meal plan dining option—costs exactly .78 less than cash payment.

Now let’s take a look at Johnny McFreshman, who doesn’t possess what we’d call discretionary income. The only way he can afford to go to college is through what little scholarship money he earned, costly student loans, and that little stash kept hidden under the matress by mom and dad. Money is tight and every penny he can save is another penny towards his education.

But because Johnny is a freshman, he has to bite the bullet and purchase these nine meals a week at the beginning of his first two semesters. If Johnny eats only eight meals a week (I wonder how anyone can stomach University food more than three times a week, personally), his university-mandated meals will cost him $6.98 each. The last time I spent $7 on a hamburger, it was Grade A angus beef and didn’t sit under a heat lamp for two hours.

Now let’s say Johnny wants to eat somewhere that’s not called Fresh Food Company. If he goes to 24 Hr diner, Bama BBQ, Tortilla Fresca, or any of the University’s other dining options, Johnny’s meal is going to come to under six dollars. I visited each of these locations and totaled the cost of all possible combinations covered under a meal plan; the most expensive of which was $5.99 at Bama BBQ.

Sweet zombie Jesus! This non-refundable, non-optional, non-flexible meal plan actually makes meals more expensive! Instead of taking his cash to a Tuscaloosa business and supporting the local economy, Johnny has to walk to one of fewer than ten locations at certain times during the day and choose his slop from the heat lamps and salad bars.

To wit, the president’s proclamation that meal plans make students “better-informed” is a sensational fabrication bordering on an out and out lie. The ultimate goal of forcing students to purchase meal plans is merely to further line the University coffers by nickel and diming its student population.

But the fleecing of the student body doesn’t stop there. When Johnny was attending freshman orientation, his poverty stricken parents were hoodwinked into the Dining Dollars system, that infamous exercise in graft the Alabama Judicial system is taking a hard look at. Well, not really hoodwinked, seeing as participation in the system is obligatory. His parents forked over the extra $225, so that their Johnny would have an emergency stash to spend at University supported vendors when his personal finances got tight.

“For a mere $225,” they said, “you need never worry that your child is going hungry.”

It seems as though an unchecked altruistic concern for the welfare of the lost, innocent freshmen has relieved this administration of its common sense.

Here is my message to President Witt and Dining Services: stop slapping the student body with unnecessary fees, and we won’t have to worry that in putting us through college, our parents are going hungry for us. Let us instead first stick to the basic principals of capitalism, and ensure that those vendors we deem worthy of our hard earned $6.20 actually receive it.

–Blake Harnage
Mallet Assembly

Hmmm… at my UT, the dining services weren’t perfect, but it was a fair value, with the food being reasonably fresh, buffet all-you-can-eat style, with some nice additions. The only problem was they didn’t have anything on one half of the campus so some poeple had to run back and forth desperately wolfing down food trying to get between classes.

They actually charge you for the meals you purchased? That’s mean.

Oh boy I feel your pain. The fee rate for the dorm room and dining plan are seperate fees. You get the option from a metric ass load of food to no food. Now if you choose the no food option interestingly enough you’re fee is not just the dorm room rather $400 more per quarter. Obviously thats a bit of a head scratcher as you are now paying $400 for jack diddly shit. Some bright person at the university saw this and provided this explanation:

So yes they admit that you are paying a boat load of money for jack diddly shit but they say hey even though we are ramming you in the ass at least our dick is a bit smaller than other universities!

It’s not just the fact that freshmen are required to purchase meal plans, but also that they’re being charged more for an inferior service which nets the same product.

Clarify, please. Does this also apply to students who live with their own families in the same community as the campus, but do not live on campus?

Wow, that’s bad. I was horrified that my university automatically charged me for 20 meals per week, yet I never once, in two years of dorm living, ate breakfast. I think there were reduced meal plans, like 10 meals a week, but the costs for room and board (including phone and cable) were $393 per month, for the spiffiest dorm on campus, so I couldn’t bitch too much. Still, it bugged me that 1/3 of my meals paid for went uneaten. (Plus the many lunches I missed because of back-to-back classes, and the evenings I just couldn’t face another dorm cafeteria meal.)

I do recall that certain dorms didn’t serve all meals, so students living in those had to go to another dorm for certain meals. Mine served all, so it didn’t affect me. Had I been expected to hike half a mile in two feet of snow to get lunch, I’d have been livid.

And that Ohio State plan that treis mentioned is just highway robbery.

University food services can be a serious ripoff. You think you’ve got it bad? At the university I attended, they require freshman to buy a meal plan for NINETEEN fucking meals a week. Every single goddamn meal of the week, except Saturday night and Sunday morning, which was brunch/lunch combined.

I don’t know that this issue has been clarified, but I am going to say that at first, students who live with their parents might have to purchase a meal plan until there’s a huge uproar about it and they change the rules. There are many, many reasons (this kind of bullshit being among them) that I left the University of Alabama.

The worst problem with “meal plans” is that they don’t rollover into other semesters. I had a meal plan for exactly one semester–it cost around 750 dollars, and I don’t remember how many meals I got. At the time, the Fresh Food Company (which is closer to my old dorm) had not been built, and the dining hall was a few miles away. I was okay going there for lunch, but I would not go there for dinners at night, as the UA campus is not exactly known for being safe for women. The end result was that I still had about half my meals at the end of the semester, but they didn’t rollover to next semester–I just lost my right to them, or the money.

In other news, hi Mr Sakamoto! It’s nice to see a fellow Tuscaloosan here on the boards.

My University meal plan is one of the major reasons why I’m moving into an apartment next year. The cheapest plan puts you at 12 meals a week, which isn’t bad, but each meal works out to about $10. You pay for those 12 meals whether you use them or not. There is no way in hell I eat $10 worth of dorm food in each sitting. I could dine out every meal of the day and still eat more cheaply than that.

Are Jewish freshman required to pay for this plan?

I took a look at the menus on offer this week and there seems to be an awful lot of pork. Are any of the kitchens run by Dining Services kosher?

There are vegetarian meals available sometimes, and from what I know of kosher meals, they might fall under the umbrella. Most of the Jews that I personally knew on campus did not follow kosher guidelines.

The big problem is that most of the meals available are high-fat, high-cholesterol, (even the vegetarian ones) and now freshman are going to be required to pay for meals like this. I gained ten pounds when I first at the University because I was eating mostly University meals; after I moved into an apartment with a kitchen (so I could cook healthy for myself) and stopped paying for the meal plan, I lost all the weight again. There just weren’t many healthy choices available–the salad bar was about the only healthy thing–and it was dismal.

I must say, the misspellings are rampant on that menu. “Freid Fish”, “Mashed Potatos”, “Au Grauting”, “Freesh Greens”, “Fresh Squash Meadly”, “Freid Vegetable”, “Chicken Quesadillia”, “Chili Chipolte Wrap”

Just made me giggle. It’s a university! Spell the menu right! :smiley:

Possibly, but I’m worried that the kitchen itself is not kosher. From this page

Even if the ingredients are kosher, it’s certainly possible for them to be prepared in a way that makes them non-kosher.

Not surprising, I suppose. If you were trying to keep kosher, the University of Alabama doesn’t sound like a very welcoming place. I certainly hope that the Jewish students that do keep kosher don’t also have to pay for food they can’t eat.

I guess I’m a little surprised. With only about 9,000 Jews living in Alabama (cite), I might think that the University of Alabama would try a little harder to attract Jewish students. Isn’t diversity on campus supposed to be a good thing?

The only Jewish people I knew (10+) on campus were Reform Jews who did not keep kosher. I don’t think there are many Orthodox (or any other sect that would keep kosher) Jews in the state.

As far as kosher guidelines go, when I was a strict vegetarian (while living on the UA campus), I would not eat veggie dishes that had been prepared on the same equipment as meat dishes. So I had to badger a lot of dining staff, but they were pretty good about acceding to my wishes. I imagine if a group of Jewish (and or Muslim students who keep halal) pressured UA, they would serve kosher-and-halal-friendly cuisine. I just doubt there are a significant amount of people who keep kosher on campus, just based on the ones I knew.

Of course, if the freshmen are FORCED to buy meal plans (we weren’t at the time I was a freshman) this becomes moot–they’re going to have to cater to everyone, unless they offer outs for those whose dietary restrictions mean it is nearly impossible for them to purchase meals on the UA campus. But there are no kosher offerings that are touted as such in any of the restaurants I’ve been to in this town, and none of the culture publications that publish information about restaurants lists any restaurants with kosher dishes.

So, uh…Nocturne. You busy tonight? :wink:
Sorry, I felt like being obnoxious.

The college (and it was a small, mostly residential college), there were two meal plans (IIRC - it’s been 10 years). 21 MPW or 7 MPW (only available to those few students who lived in the on-campus co-op (housed about 10 people) or off campus (less than 5% of the student body)).

That should have said: The college I attended

Can’t you just withold the money? I’m pretty sure I would.

One of the Colleges at the uni in England I attended (not the particular College I went to) had a policy a bit like this, and whenever I spoke to someone from that college, the first thing I always said was “how come you’re not livid about having to pay for all these meals that you might not eat?”
I just couldn’t understand anyone putting up with that sort of restriction of choice and lifestyle at a university. If I’d ended up in that college I swear I’d have driven myself mad fighting about it until I was expelled or they’d changed the system. I’d have hated it *that much.

:mad: :mad: :mad: :mad: :mad: :mad: :mad: :mad:

Sorry, I’m married. :smiley: I did date a Malleteer back in the day though.

Feels like the Stone Age now, but it was only four years ago. Anyway, just wanted to be here to back you up, as a (former) UA student who’s gotten disgusted with the way they run things, one of those things being dining services.

I think it’s bad enough that the private university i attend (i’m a grad student, so none of this affects me) makes the students live on-campus for both their freshman and sophomore year, and forces them to take meal plans.

It’s a fucking scandal that public, state universities have this sort of power to pick your pockets.

Sounds just like the meals in many US public school systems. The lobbyists for the meat and dairy industries have legislators and public officials right in their pockets.