Back in April, we wrote about the issues with the policy change that mandates all students to pay for a meal plan. In the past, on-campus students could opt out of the meal plan if their housing came with a kitchen. Now, unfortunately, upperclassmen—in addition to sophomores who live in the Charles River apartments or Ridgewoods—must pay for a meal plan even if it is more convenient for these students to make their own food. On top of that, students have continuously expressed their dissatisfaction with the quality and availability of food that Sodexo provides, and the lack of transparency behind such policy changes.
Since the last time we wrote about Sodexo and the mandatory meal plan we received a lot of commentary—both in person and in writing. The overall consensus expressed frustration, confusion and a sense of being neglected as a student body mandated to pay for a meal plan, without an understanding of why we have to do this. Given the shared discontent among Brandeis undergraduates, we brainstormed the ways in which we could reach out and formally express everyone’s frustration.
We started out by creating an online petition and sending that out to Brandeis-related Facebook pages as well as to other people/students that we know. So far the petition has 312 signatures. While this is a fair amount, 312 signatures is not enough to create real change. From the conversations that we have had with people, it is clear that students are still unhappy about the mandatory meal plan and would like to see it changed—but for that to happen, students cannot rely on a petition or op-eds in The Hoot; individuals should consider taking initiative as well to respectively reach out to the administration, Student Union or anyone who will listen.
We reached out to a member of the Student Union who explained that this is a topic that the Student Union has addressed with President Ron Liebowitz and the administration. We hope that President Liebowitz recognizes the flaws in the mandatory meal plan system is open to reevaluating our contract with Sodexo. Unfortunately, this is an issue that likely will not be fixed in the near future—sorry fellow seniors, but it’s still in the works to be dealt with eventually. The reality we must face is that we likely will not change anything for ourselves, but we do have the potential to make improvements for future classes.