The additional costs of snow that won’t stop falling

By Jermaine Pigee

The lines in the dining halls can be hectic on Fridays.

Students can often be seen taking five double cheeseburgers or 60 wingdings to get the most out of their meal plans before heading home for the weekend.

This has many students wondering why NIU hasn’t adopted a roll-over meal plan.

Freshman meteorology major Brittney Inman feels that the roll-over meal plan is a good idea for students. She also said she will not be living in the dorms next year partly because of the meal plans.

“I think that we should have roll-over meal plans because I always have money left on my account at the end of the week, and I feel that NIU is robbing me,” Inman said.

Tony Hantak, a sophomore criminology major, agreed with Inman on how wasteful the meal plans could be. He said when he goes home for the weekend, he always has extra money left over; when he stays on campus, he sometimes runs out of money.

In the spring of 2006, the Residence Hall Association discussed switching to a roll-over meal plan with Housing and Dining, due to concern from residents who felt their money was being wasted at the end of the week, said RHA President Daniel Chou.

He also said one thing many students don’t realize is that they pay their dining fee with their room and board, meaning they pay to be able to purchase a set amount of items and to use the dining facilities.

“Residents do not lose money at the end of the week when they do not use all of their dining dollars because they have already paid through the room and board fee, and the dining dollars are not actually equivalent to the value of the fee,” he said.

Chou said students’ money is not wasted because it will come back to them in the form of residence hall maintenance, improvements and repairs.

One aspect to keep in mind is item prices in dining halls are not projected in U.S. dollars, Chou said. An item’s cost is calculated by labor, initial cost, storage and preparation.

“The idea that dining dollars are, in fact, points to which a resident can exchange for food items rather than actual U.S. dollars helps diminish the concern for residents that they are losing large amounts of money through their leftover dining dollars,” Chou said.

In the past, a lump-sum meal plan for the semester was used by Housing and Dining and due to no weekly restrictions, students ran out of their dining dollars. As a result, students wanted a different meal plan to fix this problem and to help students budget their dining dollars.

A survey done in Fall 2006 through RHA and SA and given to all seven residence hall councils found the majority of students didn’t feel they needed to change meal plans.