Meal Plan Confusion Surrounds Opening Of Student Commons Dining

Students with class in Leo before 2 p.m. can use a lunchtime meal swipe in the student commons. Photo by James O'Connor.
Students with class in Leo before 2 p.m. can use a lunchtime meal swipe in the student commons. Photo by James O’Connor.

Students who tried to utilize meal swipes in the Student Commons early last week faced some confusion as the facilities’ systems for accepting meal swipes were not straightened out until last Thursday. This service hiccup came as staff, administration and students all transitioned to the new dining options and as students became more informed of the specifics of their meal plans.

“We apologize certainly,” Kenneth Waldhof, director of business services, said. “We were all excited about all these new programs, and obviously with everything happening, a lot of them requiring technology, it was really the resources that we have here to get this all done in time. We’ve all scrambled, worked together.”

Waldhof also said that the staff was not fully informed of the details of the meal swipe system for the commons and that technical difficulties, like adding a new button for commons meal swipes onto the cash registers, contributed to this confusion.

“I feel like it’s taking a little bit of time to get into things,” student Danielle Valachovic said.

On its first day in service to the student body, the dining facilities in the commons experienced technical difficulties in accepting meal swipes. This created confusion among the student body, who thought the school that revoked the part of the unlimited meal plan that offers one meal swipe per day in the commons if students have class in Leo Hall before 2 p.m.

“The one thing that’s a little odd is that the engineers are supposed to get free meal swipes here if they have class and that’s not set up yet,” freshman Matt Bacchi said last week.

Other students were not as informed on these new meal swipe options at all.

“I have no idea what I can and cannot use it [meal swipes] for,” Valachovic said. “No one’s given us any real information on it.”

Administrators involved in the development of the new dining options in the student commons held an open meeting for the student body last semester. During the meeting, they revealed specific details of the new plans.

New signage in the commons will also inform students as to what they can get for a meal swipe in the commons.

“At each station, there’s a small four by six or so sign that tells the student what is included in that meal swipe option,” Waldhof said.

These additions to the basic unlimited meal plan include the possibility for the lunchtime meal swipe in the student commons, a 10 percent discount at the Starbucks and Marketplace in the commons, $50 of dining dollars for on-campus purchases and $25 of Jasper dollars for off-campus purchases from select restaurants. There are also no time spacing restrictions on when students can use student commons meal swipes in relation to their other meal swipes.

“So literally you can eat in Kelly and run to Locke’s and eat some more,” Waldhof said.

Despite the generally positive response to food in the commons, commuters not on the meal plan and students that do not have class in Leo Hall find the prices high.

“I’m not an engineer so I don’t get swipes in here,” junior Tori Heilweil said. She said she wishes all students could use a meal swipe in the commons because it is a convenient option.

“I just bought a wrap and a Gatorade and it was nine bucks,” commuter Melanie Marzan said. Marzan also said she and other commuters could find better prices elsewhere in the neighborhood, making the student commons a less competitive option for them.

Students’ overall optimistic response poses a good outlook for dining in the student commons despite the confusion in the first week.

“It’s getting better,” Brianna Larious said.