Facing significant student pressure, a committee of senior UT administrators decided to change the new meal exchange policy.
Dean of Students Bob Ruday released a statement outlining two changes in the current meal exchange policy:
1) “meal exchanges will be permitted at any time during the week at any of the campus food venues in the Vaughn Center and Stadium Center. There are no time limits for meal exchanges.”
2) “meal exchanges will be for combo meals at each location. Single items will no longer be part of the meal exchange program.” A global e-mail this Tuesday confirmed that “meal exchanges will no longer be offered at Freshens.”
AN ABRUPT CHANGE
The backtracking on policy comes in light of adverse student reaction to the “meal period” policy that was put into effect over the summer.
According to Ruday, this summer senior administrators asked Sodexho’s advice regarding what UT considered to be a problem: students using their meals to feed others.
On Sodexho’s recommendation, the policy was adopted to allow only one exchange per meal period. The day was divided into four periods: breakfast from 2:30 a.m. to 11, lunch 11 to 4:30 p.m., dinner from 4:30 to 8 p.m., and late-night from 8 to 2:30 a.m.
Last weekend, Minaret staff began to hear widespread dissatisfaction among students regarding the “meal period” policy.
Minaret reporters met with Dean of students Bob Ruday and General Manager of Dining Services Amy Truong on Monday to voice student concerns.
When they met again on Tuesday, Minaret reporters were told the policy was under review.
The Dean of Students’ statement revealing the meal period policy’s elimination still emphasizes that the administration is serious about the alleged problem that contributed to the unpopular policy: “Your meal plan is designed for your use only. If you wish to host friends or family for meals, you may use Spartan or UT Dollars.”
Students were not notified of the change and were stunned to find their dining flexibility hindered. Many learned of the change when told by Dining Services employees.
UT graduate student Sarah Koslow was told to wait forty-five minutes while her friends were told to wait three hours before being allowed another meal. Because of the change, she decided not to buy a meal plan this year: “I don’t think we should have restrictions because it is our money,” Koslow said.
Many students expressed the sentiment of Senior Harry Haas, “This is just Sodexho trying to make even more money than they already do.”
However, Truong disputes Haas’ charge. “This is not a money-making scheme for Sodexho,” she assured reporters.
Regardless of Sodexho’s motives, Senior Jason Lenon decided to handle the situation by taking action.
“I had a lot of people coming to me with opinions on the meal plan. They weren’t happy with it, and I just wanted to make sure that everyone’s opinion was heard by the school administration,” Lenon explains.
Lenon created a facebook group called “Get rid of time between meal exchanges!!!!!” which boasts 524 members. He also spoke to Dean Ruday on Tuesday to voice students’ concerns.
CHANGE NOW OPERATIONAL
According to Ruday, Sodexho’s offsite computer system was updated on Saturday, so the changes are now operational. Students may now use their meals at their own convenience.