GW’s dining plan shortchanges the Class of 2025

When officials announced detailed and updated dining plans beginning next academic year in an email last month, it was clear that next year’s sophomores would be participating in a plan markedly different from the one they agreed to when they first arrived at GW. As a member of the Class of 2025, who has enjoyed using the current plan for residence halls with kitchens, I would prefer to continue the same plan next year, without any need to use the dining hall, especially since I’ll have a private kitchen again.

Unlike the current dining hall plan which allocates a fixed amount of money to spend at either GWorld vendors, including Whole Foods and the Georgetown Safeway, the new plans separate the account between one dedicated to dining halls and another to GWorld vendor balance. Ultimately, the new plans offer greatly reduced GWorld balances for next year’s freshmen and sophomores, compared to the current plan. Originally, only one option was offered to next year’s freshmen and sophomores, including unlimited dining swipes, plus varying declining GWorld balances. While first and second year students were restricted to this plan, third and fourth year students could also choose the block plan or legacy base plan, which costs about 50 dollars more than the current plan for students with private kitchens.

Hundreds of current freshmen have petitioned against the single plan offered to them next year after receiving the original dining email. Officials sent an email to the Class of 2025 earlier this month informing them that they can now also opt into the block plan, which gives students varying amounts of both dining hall swipes and declining GWorld balances. Although expanding options for next year’s sophomores was a step in the right direction, GW should reconsider allowing the Class of 2025 the option to dine via the legacy base plan, as we are accustomed to it, we’ll have access to private kitchens next year, and some students have food allergies that are easier to avoid with the legacy base plan.

The Class of 2025 came to GW without knowledge of the recently announced dining plans. When we enrolled, we understood we would have access to the open dining plan and expected to dine exclusively via GWorld money. Although I was initially hesitant about the lack of dining halls because of their commonality at most colleges, I’ve grown to enjoy and appreciate the freedom that dining exclusively via the GWorld balance gives us. Dining on GWorld money has taught my friends and me more about budgeting, meal-planning and cooking, and has promoted independence.

Most sophomores next academic year will have private kitchens in their residence hall rooms, which helps to financially maximize meals for some students. But less money for groceries and more toward dining hall swipes can put students in an awkward position in trying to fully use their kitchens. Residence halls with private kitchens, which make up almost all upperclassmen halls, cost substantially more money per semester than residence halls without kitchens. Requiring the Class of 2025 to pay for both a plan involving dining hall swipes and a kitchen in their residence hall is too financially demanding for students and families. This is especially true when the two offered plans cost from $330 to $1,430 more per semester than the legacy base plan.

The plans offered to next year’s freshmen and sophomores primarily benefit freshmen, most of whom will be living in residence halls with community kitchens, rather than private kitchens. Community kitchens are difficult to regularly cook in comparison to private kitchens, which makes the new plan ideal for incoming freshmen. Students with food allergies and sensitivities have already voiced concerns with a lack of food options at Pelham Commons. The current dining plan allows students much control over what they eat, and provides options for a variety of good quality food. Allowing students who have thrived on and prefer dining solely via their GWorld balances the option to continue in doing so will best suit the needs and wants of all students.

When describing the current plan on the GW Dining website, officials write, “This is not a typical college dining plan, because GW is far from a typical college experience.” Like the website states, the uniqueness of the dining experience here is partly why I chose GW.

Implementing and maintaining three dining halls is costly for GW, but officials should consider phasing in the new dining system over several years, rather than suddenly, to give students time to become accustomed to it. Requiring dining hall usage and limiting GWorld declining balances so soon for the Class of 2025 is upsetting to students who have thrived on the current dining plan. Adjusting to a plan that is unideal to some students is especially difficult amid an already uncertain college experience, due to the pandemic. GW’s dining plan has been contested for years and both current freshmen and other classes may be excited to try plans involving dining swipes, but since some of us already prefer the current plan, GW should make the legacy base plan one of the three dining plan options available for sophomores next year.

GW Dining’s website highlights the benefits of GW’s unique GWorld dining system. The website boasts, “Our open dining plan gives students access to food and groceries from more than 90 dining partners concentrated on our campuses and in our surrounding neighborhoods.” It goes on to say, “designed to fit the busy lifestyle of GW students, the plan supports myriad dietary preferences by providing diverse dining options, healthy foods and convenience.” Forcing a reduction of GWorld money for a class who has spent a year adapting to GWorld is contradictory to this message.

GW’s limited plans for next year’s sophomores has caused dining anxiety for students who worry if they’ll be able to eat the dining hall’s food or if paying for a certain plan will be worth the money. Further, it has disconnected officials with current freshmen, who feel let down by GW in this decision. It is especially difficult for some students to imagine adapting to an unideal plan during an already uncertain college experience regarding COVID-19. To alleviate the concerns of the freshman class, GW should allow the Class of 2025 to opt in or out of the legacy base plan.

Mia Adams, a freshman majoring in political science, is an opinions writer.

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.