The University is, as Managing Director for Business Services Michael Pellar said, on the “cutting edge” of meal plans. The fusion of meal points and debit dollars is an innovative way for the administration to both satisfy students and generate extra revenue – changing the concept of traditional meal plans by integrating the city into student dining options.
While the program is still in its infancy, the “plan dollars” seem to be among the best ideas to come out of this year’s budget. Next year students will be able to use points everywhere they can now use debit dollars – including the book store, dry cleaners, Au Bon Pain and a myriad of delivery restaurants, such as Domino’s and Hunan Peking.
The dramatic expansion of dining options for students is intended to give Aramark a run for its money. Aramark has a monopoly over the thousands of meal points students purchase each year, which could explain students’ whining about poor quality of Aramark food and service.
Aramark will need to lower Provision prices and improve dining options in J Street if it wishes to compete with local eateries. Aramark only has one year left on its contract with the University and it would be in its best interest to make some dramatic improvements. It will be interesting to observe whether J Street’s convenience makes up for its often inferior quality.
While this might be the best thing to happen to students since online registration, buyer beware – plan dollars might contribute to GW’s lack of a community feeling if students, especially freshmen, are not consistently lounging around J Street or the Thurston dining hall. Student will be more spread out around Northwest using the new dining option – possibly producing less on-campus interaction over meals, which is the basis for much socializing on campus.
Meal plans were created to provide food security for college students who might not have any money to eat or spend irresponsibly, but this new plan gives 18-year-olds complete dietary freedom. Students should be aware of the new financial responsibility that accompanies the combination. It will be possible for students to blow their entire semester food allowance on GW sweatshirts, condoms, cigarettes and other items one can purchase at the bookstore or CVS.
This will no doubt result in students requiring more points if there are more places where they can easily expend their parents money. We all know what that means at the end of the day, more money for the University – what a novel idea.