The Maroon

Editorial: Meal plan requirement is disservice to students

by Editorial Board

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Any student whose first visit to Loyola occurred during Jazz Brunch or the President’s Open House likely believes that everyday fare at the university includes smoked salmon, fresh crawfish and gourmet pastries. A few meals into freshman year, however, and the harsh reality sets in: Loyola’s dining options are unfailingly low-quality and overpriced.

What makes this situation truly outrageous is Loyola’s policy of requiring residential students to purchase meal plans and Wolfbucks. Freshmen and sophomores on campus must buy a meal plan with at least 12 meals per week, while residential upperclassmen have to purchase at least $500 in Wolfbucks a semester.

The meal plans Loyola offers are tremendously overpriced for the quality and selection of food provided. The Orleans Room focuses upon quick, cheap dishes far removed from those seen when prospective students visit campus. Its meals are almost exclusively unhealthy, leading many students to adopt deleterious diets under the mandatory meal plans.

The O.R. also makes little effort to cater to students with different dietary needs. Vegetarian options are scant, with vegan food essentially unavailable. Often the vegetarian station is unmanned, while the so-called Vegan Station is stocked with snacks that contain animal products. Dinner is a worse ordeal for students who must avoid gluten or other allergens, as variety is near nonexistent and the O.R.’s dietary information cards are often absent or simply erroneous.

The O.R. tends to fall into a monotony that alienates students with special diets and precludes healthy eating. While no doubt beneficial for Sodexo’s bottom line, this policy of performing poorly while charging exorbitant rates is irresponsible and unfair for students who cannot opt out of the O.R.’s meal plans.

The dining options on campus that accept Wolfbucks fall prey to a similar curse. While one dollar technically equals one Wolfbuck, the prices of businesses that deal in Wolfbucks are intensely inflated. One visit to the C Store to purchase a bag of potato chips reveals the absurd price levels normal for Loyola’s campus. Like the O.R., these Wolfbuck-friendly establishments also tend to specialize in unhealthy meals and ignore the needs of students with special diets.

Despite these flaws that afflict campus dining, Loyola still sees it fit to require underclassmen to shell out over $2,000 for a meal plan, while upperclassmen must hand over $500 for 500 Wolfbucks whose purchasing power nowhere nears the original dollar amount.

The prices of on-campus dining options are kept artificially high by these mandatory meal plans. No matter how high prices get in the O.R. or the C Store, on-campus students will continue eating there, simply because they were required to purchase a meal plan or Wolfbucks. If the requirement was lifted, residential students would likely follow commuters, who already avoid eating at Loyola due to the prices.

The mandatory meal plans send the outrageous message that poor quality and high prices are acceptable. They foster a situation where there is no incentive for Loyola’s dining services to improve, as every residential student has already prepaid for its services.

As long as Loyola enforces the policy, on-campus options will remain subpar, and students drowning in debt will continue to have their pockets drained by dining establishments unworthy of their business.

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Since 1923 • For a greater Loyola
Editorial: Meal plan requirement is disservice to students