Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Meal Plan Frustrations Aimed Off-Target

Many students have relayed their frustrations to me throughout the summer and registration period regarding the new policy that mandates all sophomores living in a dorm to be enrolled in a weekly meal plan. As an organization, GUSA does not endorse this policy, and neither do I as an individual.

I am not here to make an undeliverable promise, such as overhauling this policy by the end of the semester. Rather, I would like to provide students with background information regarding this mandate in the hope of eventually eliminating the need for required meal plans and repairing any damages among the student body that have been made to the reputation of a key university administrator.

In articles and editorials from multiple student publications throughout the opening week of the new academic year, Associate Vice President of Auxiliary Services Margie Bryant has come under attack for the implementation of this policy. To begin, Ms. Bryant is not an administrator students should be out to attack. GUSA has closely worked with her to redevelop Hoya Court, launch and expand the Grab-n-Go meal program and overhaul Marriott’s operations in Darnall Hall so that on-campus dining options can offer greater variety.

Ms. Bryant is also responsible for initiating the GoCard in fall 2002 with the intention of eliminating the need for students to carry different cards for university transactions. Throughout the spring 2005 semester several administrators pushed Ms. Bryant to increase meal plan prices by more than 5 percent for the 2005-06 school year, but she refused to do so, understanding that such a drastic price increase would cause many upperclassmen to abandon residence dining in its entirety. Hence, I believe that Ms. Bryant has shown a strong commitment to working with students in the hopes of bettering their lives on the Hilltop.

Although for various reasons Ms. Bryant cannot publicly disclose all information regarding the decision to implement this new policy, I would like to illustrate to my fellow Hoyas how she is stuck between a rock and a hard place. The activities of auxiliary services rely greatly upon the decisions made in other departments – for example, Housing and Facilities – and oftentimes s. Bryant is forced to make decisions that she would otherwise not have made.

Meal plan enrollment throughout the 2004-05 academic year was not as high as anticipated, and this correlates with the university’s inability to fill all beds on campus. Thus, the university not only lost approximately $500,000 during the 2004-05 year because of empty beds on campus, but also lost additional revenue that could have been preserved from the higher meal plan enrollment that would have resulted from more students residing on campus.

I too understand students’ frustrations with the inability to use their meal plans in Hoya Court, as does Ms. Bryant. Thus, she and I are working together to explore solutions to reconcile this situation, but unfortunately, we were unable to implement any of them by opening day. As a result, we were left with a difficult decision: wait to open Hoya Court until the vendors could accept meal plans, or open when school began and try to reconcile the matter. I am confident that in choosing the latter we made the correct decision, and I hope that my fellow Hoyas agree.

The interconnectedness of different departments on this campus is clearly illustrated by this situation. Thus, it is essential that university administrators work together and maintain open channels of communication if they are to truly act in the best interests of Georgetown University and its students. As far as auxiliary services and Ms. Bryant are concerned, students should renew their call for alterations to the university’s housing policies and programs if they hope to relieve Ms. Bryant of choosing between students’ checking accounts and that of the university.

The examples mentioned earlier reveal that Ms. Bryant believes a university cannot preserve its own account without first attempting to preserve students’ accounts, but circumstances beyond her control have placed her in a position no student or administrator would envy.

Eamonn Carr is a senior in the College and is secretary of housing and facilities for GUSA.

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