Letter: Freeze and review Fall 2014 meal plan changes

Courtesy of CHCRC Area Government
Courtesy of CHCRC Area Government

Chancellor Subbaswamy,

Our Area Government submits this letter as representation on behalf of the nearly 1,500 students residing within the Commonwealth Honors College Residential Community who will be burdened financially by the new meal plans put forth by UMass Dining. We find that these new plans—in particular, those for on-campus, non-apartment residents—are not congruent with the values of the University as a land grant institution, founded on the principle of access and equity to education. Maintaining and improving affordability and access is a stated priority of the Board of Trustees. Increasing prices for residential meal plans inherently increases the cost of living on campus, and presents higher financial barriers to students who wish to attend the University of Massachusetts.

While we acknowledge this information has just been released, we do not support these price increases. The cheapest of the new mandatory residential meal plans, the “DC Basic,” will cost students $4,820 a year; a $226 increase from the current “Value Meal Plan,” and an unacceptable $2,530 increase from the current cheapest available “Your Campus Meal Plan” for residential students. In addition, the “DC Basic” does not provide “Dining Dollars” or allow students to eat at other retail dining locations on campus. While UMass Dining is separate from on-campus housing, increased prices for the meal plans will directly impact a student’s ability to afford to live on campus. UMass Dining, through these changes, has demonstrated its complete ignorance of the financial burden students are faced with.

Furthermore, our Area Government finds the date in which this information was released to be highly problematic and manipulative. Releasing this information during the last week of classes and beginning of finals period is manipulative in that it does not allow students the opportunity to review the material and address concerns with student leadership on campus, which, for the most part, has concluded its business for the semester. UMass Dining indicates that it is willing to listen to concerns over the next week, however we see this as a rushed and superficial process that invalidates our opinions.

We request that you freeze the implementation of these meal plans for the upcoming Fall Semester. Student leadership must be allowed the opportunity to receive concerns from constituents, review the material, and work with UMass Dining to implement an improved set of dining options. We look forward to your prompt response to this pertinent issue.


Christopher Earls
CHCRC Area Governor

Elena Drews
CHCRC Lt. Area Governor