MEAL PLAN CHANGES ’19-’20
Senators motioned to not recommend changes to the meal plan proposed by the administration during the second presentation on the topic this semester.
Danny Trujillo and Steve Schafer endured a storm of frustration and pointed questions as they brought their second round of proposals to Senate. Even with the updates from the last plan proposed to Senate last month, the assembly was unconvinced that the changes were useful or helpful for students, and officially condemned them.
The changes, which will raise the per-semester price of every meal plan except one, aimed to provide better food security while eliminating a meal swipe to cash equivalency. While each plan now comes with meal money, the price of each meal swipe, the move from per-semester to per-week meal allotments, and the dramatic jump in price of the lowest available meal swipe turned senators against the plan.
With the exception of those on Meal Plans 1 and 2, the price for every meal swipe increased under the new changes. The increases ranged from three cents on Meal Plan 3 to $8.43 on Meal Plan 5, putting the cost of a single meal swipe on that plan to $26.56. That plan, currently the lowest option and the go-to for students who mostly cook for themselves, would phase out entirely in a few years. That will leave the lowest plan at $2,125 per semester, nearly $1,500 dollars more expensive.
“[The price of] Meal Plan One decreased substantially from a percentage standpoint,” Trujillo said, referring to the plan’s 5% decrease from $2,860 to $2,700 per semester. Every other meal plan got more expensive.
To calm fears that students wouldn’t be able to afford the new meal plans, Trujillo said that students can “have their financial aid reviewed” to meet their new need. Aliza Yousey, ex-Treasurer visiting for the evening, expressed the room’s skepticism, doubting Financial Aid will not cover an extra $1,500 in costs. “Unless there’s major restructuring happening, I don’t see how that can magically change,” she said. Trujillo restated that one of the administration’s top priorities is making sure “students can eat.”
Some senators, like Kelsey Copley, painted the meal plan as a tax for students who are self-sufficient but still want to live on campus. “This sounds like taking autonomy away from students that know what and when they need to eat,” she said.
Ultimately, Schafer and Trujillo failed to sell the necessity of the changes. “I can’t actually recommend something that doesn’t have a consistent price for a meal,” Senior Class Co-President Isoke Atiba said near the end of the meeting. She also remarked that she can’t recommend a plan that “asks the students who are the most needy” to pay the most for each meal swipe, as Meal Plan E does.
The two administrators underlined that these changes were not final, that the decision will be made soon, and that the college “can’t predict how it’s going to be, or how it’ll work.” One senator remarked that it would be nice if the college could officially state that the changes were an “experiment.”
“When will the final decision be made?” asked Ian Gonzales, the other Senior Class Co-President. “What room? Can we be there?”
“The college,” Schafer replied, and added that the decision will be made some time in the coming week.
A chorus of senators asked Schafer to be more specific, and Trujillo refined Schafer’s answer to “the administration.” Gonzales asked Trujillo if members of Senate could sit in at the meeting, and Trujillo agreed, but time expired and the conversation moved on before Trujillo could guarantee specifics.
The changes are set to expand the meal plan to breakfast and lunch each day of spring and Thanksgiving breaks, except Thanksgiving Day itself, at no extra charge. While that expansion is “subsidized by the college,” according to Paige Crandall, students will still have to use a swipe for each of those meals.
In an email sent to senators the next day, Trujillo wrote that Meal Plan 5, the lowest plan, will not be phased out over the next few years as was previously stated.
In an update on the Senate Day of Service, Parliamentarian Samuel James DeMattio laid out the plans thus far for the live auction.
When students bid on senators, they will be “buying an experience.” Demattio encouraged senators to sell a service associated with them or their personality. Demattio himself will be selling 10 hours of his time as a personal assistant on conference papers, and Penny Kapusuzoglu, Senate Chair, will be selling an evening of drinks at the Tavern.
The 2017 Senior Class Auction, on which this event is heavily based, heavily curated the services auctioned. DeMattio suggested that those who aren’t putting something up for auction will help with the event, handing out pamphlets or serving food.
DeMattio also underscored that “the more money we can raise, the better,” and encouraged senators to “invite our friends who will bid on you and your rich friends.”
The event will be black-tie and may be billed as either a Pre-Formal Senate Party, Opulence and Luxury, or both. There will be hors d’oeuvres.
Senators will have a more formal conversation this week, but they plan to revise the formal language of the Preamble to their bylaws, which they don’t feel fits the purpose of the current senate.
“According to bylaw, [our purpose is] raising money for SSSF and panning events,” DeMattio told the assembly. “When looking at our Big Senate Goals, we’re looking for a lot more.”
Senators also hope to redraft two subsections of their bylaws this coming week.
Student Life will be meeting in the coming week to discuss issues of isolation on campus and how to prepare incoming students for Sarah Lawrence social life.
Curriculum pitched a potential pre-registration period in the Spring semester to gauge interest in the Fall semester classes. The idea is not final, and would mostly be intended to help with enrollment caps. “Interviews aren’t cancelled,” Emma Thompson assured the assembly.
Diversity met with Zenzibar, the group who recently redesigned the MySLC website, and reported that they are working to help students who wish to change their name for any reason do so in an upcoming patch to the website.
The Student Activity Committee (SAC) debriefed senate on their DIII week celebrations, including a dinner for student athletes. In their meeting they discussed which teams have not already done community service and planned ways for them to do so.
Jerry O’Mahony ‘19