Meal plan reimbursement: why we should get the difference

Kasheema Whitfield, Guest Writer

I just transferred from Coker College to Francis Marion University. I have witnessed many interesting things around campus that differ greatly from my original college experience. Some of these changes are good improvements, others are a step back.

Overall I have enjoyed my time here at FMU, but there is one thing that I would like to see revised: the meal plan.

Most students on campus have several options for meals. The plans range from nineteen meals a week, to fourteen meals a week, to six meals a week, to choosing no mean plan. I was not given an option. Upon signing up for living arrangements I was given a choice; live in a dorm and have a meal plan or live in an apartment and do not.

Because of where I live on campus I was only told about one meal plan, the 19 a week.  Is it necessary that I have 19 meals a week? At most I end up eating fourteen meals a week because I rarely get up for breakfast. If I am not feeling well or just not hungry I may not bother making the trip to the café.

Here lies my problem. If I do not eat nineteen meals a week why do I have to pay for all nineteen?

I appreciate dearly that someone looked out for me and thought it in my best interest to have this type of meal plan, but was it really helpful?  First year students typically live in the dorms. Students who live in the dorms do not have a cooking area within their living space.

With that logic I can definitely see why the administration would provide dorm dwellers with the highest meal plan to ensure that there nutritional needs are met. But that is also my problem. If I cannot choose which meal plan I get to use, shouldn’t I at least be reimbursed for what I do not use?

Because I did not have a say in the matter I spend about one hundred and five dollars more a semester than if I had the fourteen meal a week plan. If I had decided on the six meal a week plan I would have saved nine hundred a

nd fifteen dollars a semester. Whether barely one hundred or almost a thousand every little bit counts for me. So I feel that it is only fair that I get control of the money that I do not use on meals.

I am not the only student that feels this way. I know that my roommate is in the same boat as me. We both transferred from outside schools with a much higher cost of living and education.

We do not take for granted that we are getting an education without sending our families into bankruptcy, but if we do not eat the predetermined amount of meals why shouldn’t we be refunded what belongs to us?

I suggest that there be some type of reimbursement for the students who feel the same way as I do. Of course I would say a refund check for the difference of what was not used, but something so simple as credit to be used anywhere on campus would also work in this case.

Just keeping the unused money makes me think that money is more thought about than the needs of the student, and how they could have been met in other ways with the money that could have been saved.

I wonder has this thought ever occurred to anyone. If it is made a habit of reimbursing students for the meals that are not eaten, then you would probably get more students paying for meal plans.

People remember when you take care of them. If it could promise that students could be reimbursed after a semester then more students may sign up for a meal plan, which may influence them to eat more during the week, which in turn will result in more people dining in up to nineteen meals a week.

I speak simply as a student who has questions, a student who has thought long and hard about the issue, and a student who really expects to see change around campus.

The simplest little change could make college life a lot easier.