University to provide revamped meal plan

Torea Frey and Erin Ward

Northwestern’s Dining Services Committee on Wednesday unveiled two new meal plans for next year that might make Norris University Center a more popular place.

Associated Student Government Student Services Vice President Mike Fong revealed to Senate the new system that will return meal equivalency in a modified form. Under the new meal equivalency plan, a breakfast will be worth $4.50, lunch and late-night $6.60 and dinners $8.50.

Under last year’s plan, all dining hall meals could be exchanged for $6.60 worth of food at non-dining hall locations. This year’s new Block Plan gives students points to use at either dining halls or a la carte locations, but without offering equivalency.

In the fall, students confused by the Block Plan contract demanded the university recognize meal equivalency. After a discrepancy in the contract was reported by The Daily, officials revamped the plan mid-quarter.

Fong first explained the committee’s findings, based on surveys conducted in dining halls and online. The survey found that student satisfaction with the current meal plan was slightly above average. Students also said the quality and efficiency of food service have improved over the last two years.

“Students expressed the importance of flexibility in their dining options,” said Fong, a Weinberg junior. “We are moving at a fast pace to improve the dining experience.”

Jessica Sturgeon, who wrote a letter complaining to the administration about her dissatisfaction with this year’s meal plan, said the university worked with students to fix the problem.

“My complaint was that they had broken the contract that we signed in June,” said Sturgeon, a Communication junior. “After I contacted administrators, they ended up granting (meal equivalency). I’m as pleased with that plan as I have been with any other plan.”

ASG also presented next year’s operating budget publicly for first time, although it was supposed to be revealed two weeks ago to The Daily. Treasurer Edith Rivera outlined the plan, which did not include an allocation for the Chicago Weekend Shuttle.

The budget request totals $81,745 and includes $27,000 to fund the ASG lawyer and $12,000 for student group event publicity.

Last year’s budget, which included about $30,000 for the shuttle, totaled $88,000.

Rivera said ASG still is investigating the shuttle’s value by tracking usage statistics for every weekend it runs. ASG may apply for shuttle money in the spring funding cycle through the Student Activities Finance Board if it determines student interest is high.

For the first time, ASG is requesting $6,000 for the Leadership Advisory Board, a training retreat for A- and B-status student group officers.

“Leadership Advisory Board should have been added a long time ago,” said Rivera, a Communication senior. “It’s something we require, so we should fund it.”

The budget also asks for funds to pay students to assist ASG’s technology director with upkeep of HereAndNow.

A resolution opposing the looming war in Iraq also was introduced. The resolution was postponed last week while its authors urged senators to gauge support from their constituents.

Bassel Korkor, a senator for the Middle Eastern Students Association, which co-sponsored the resolution, said the statement could serve as a means to criticize an action that could affect many factions on campus.

“It does not mean that every member of the (NU community) is against the war,” said Korkor, a Weinberg senior. “It means that the Senate has taken a stand against the war.”

Senators also passed bills calling for the creation of a “Northwestern Idol” contest and the acceptance of classic foreign languages to fill a radio-TV-film distribution requirement.