RHA formulates dining proposal
Published: Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, September 25, 2013 00:09
A buzz filled the room as Kasey Kram, president of the Residence Hall Association, began the discussion on a new proposal for the University dining plan.
At the RHA General Assembly meeting Tuesday night, members voted on a dining proposal that would be introduced to University dining for next semester. After explaining the different points of the proposed plan, Kram opened the floor for questions from members of the RHA in attendance at the meeting.
Kram said some of the RHA executives have been in contact with dining services and with Chartwells, the company to which Texas A&M has outsourced dining services. Kram said he has been told Chartwells does not want to go back to an all-dining dollars system like the plan the University had last year.
“We need to look for another way to get the most bang for our buck,” Kram said.
Kram said the idea behind this year’s meal plan was to drive students to eat at Sbisa and Duncan dining halls, but students do not want to be told where and when they should eat.
“A&M outsourced to a third party company, whose objective is to maximize profits,” Kram said. “Chartwells has upgraded dining facilities, and to make up for cost of upgrading facilities, unfortunately the load is put on students. We need to come up with a plan that is fair and that students want to use. One that is set in stone for years to come.”
Kram proposed multiple ideas that consisted of offering a different range of dining dollars and meals, a ratio that gives students what he said they really want — more dining dollars.
The RHA proposed cost was $1189 for the basic meal plan, but Kram said these numbers are not set in stone.
“We don’t want dining to set next semester’s meal plan without a student’s voice taken into consideration,” Kram said.
RHA member reactions to Kram’s plan varied. A few speakers stated the quality of the food currently on campus was not worth the price per meal the dining plan was charging students.
Leo Flores, senior applied mathematical sciences major from Walton Hall, said dining services have been neglected.
“I’ve lived on campus for five years,” Flores said. “The first two years were good. But now I have trouble getting fresh fruit from Sbisa. I also like going [to] dorm dinners. But those have been neglected.”
Having heard the back-and-forth of ideas, Kram took a vote to gather an idea of what RHA members had agreed upon.
A majority said they wanted to keep the “all you can eat” option at Sbisa, and the room voted unanimously that they wanted better quality food. A majority said they were willing to pay a slight increase in meal plan price if it meant better quality food. The students present also wanted more dining dollars than meal plans, but liked the option of having a range of both to choose from.
After the meeting, Kram said it was time for the RHA to start thinking about the future steps.
“We still have a long way to go,” Kram said. “Student passion is high, which is good. This was a good first step. The next steps are focus groups, which can provide more in-depth detail and can include all halls and students from all demographics.”
Tim Broderick, executive vice president of RHA, said RHA’s goal is to work with dining services to find a compromise that both parties agree on.
“This semester we’re making the best with what we’ve got,” Broderick said. “More importantly, we can now look toward next semester and next year to create a more satisfactory dining plan in a timely manner.”