Northwestern’s dining committee announced this week it would form a subcommittee to solicit feedback directly on the meal plans from students. This is done in order to avoid problems similar to what took place at the beginning of Fall Quarter, when NU told students on the Block Plan that meal equivalence would not be honored at Norris University Center. To the university’s credit, it did honor meal equivalence for students already on the Block Plan after it discovered misleading information in promotional materials.
We welcome the committee’s move as the first step in improving the meal plan and providing students with choices that will suit their needs. As long as the committee wants feedback, we’d like to provide some: The committee permanently should bring back meal equivalence at the a la carte dining locations in Norris and in other places on campus. The student response earlier this year indicates that being able to eat at a la carte locations is a priority for many students. Proposals for meal plans that consist almost entirely of Wildcat Points also should go forward.
SodexhoUSA also should bring the cost of meal plans in line with their cash value. Although the pricing of the Block Plan this year was calculated excluding meal equivalence, the price per meal was still well above the cash value of those meals. There’s no reason students on the meal plan should be charged more than cash customers. If anything, they should receive a discount.
If SodexhoUSA is unable to live with these terms, NU should either do away with the meal plan requirement for students living in dormitories or replace SodexhoUSA when its contract with NU expires.