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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Dining Services open forum allows students to voice concerns

Student senate and the Residence Hall Association jointly held an open forum Tuesday, to discuss measures that have been approved by the University which will, starting in 2012, require all students living in residence halls to purchase $1,200 in dining dollars each semester. It will also remove meal plans entirely, which means students will purchase all their on-campus meals with dining dollars, or cash.
“The purpose of this forum is to allow students to voice their opinions and concerns to the student senate and the RHA,” said Katherine Gnadinger, president of the Residence Hall Association.
Scott Bowen, the speaker pro tempore of the student senate, and David Riddle, the director of Texas A&M dining services, were also in attendance.
“The student opinion expressed here will give student senate a clearer idea of what stance we should take on this issue. If the dissent is strong enough, we can push for a repeal of this addition to campus residents’ fees,” Bowen said.
A point of concern for many of the students in attendance was that the approval of this plan happened out of the public eye, and while not necessarily obscured, there wasn’t much perceived effort to let students know what was being proposed, and those students who were aware of the proposed plan did not realize how imminent the decision was.
“Between RHA and student senate, and other student organizations, I think we all knew this was out there, but at the same time, I don’t think anyone knew this was reaching the decision phase until the decision had already been made, and that’s when we [student senate] started meeting with the RHA,” Bowen said.
Other students in attendance voices concerns regarding residents with food allergies who are unable to eat on campus. This grievance was addressed by Riddle, who confirmed that there will be a process in place by which students with special circumstances such as food allergies would be able to exempt themselves from the obligation to purchase dining dollars.
Other students voiced concerns for campus residents with limited financial resources, and the effect that an obligatory purchase of dining dollars would have on them.
“If you double the cost of living on campus, which is effectively what you’re doing, people are going to do the logical thing and move off campus,” said Gabriel Jagush, a sophomore petroleum engineering major. “There are reasons why Walton and Hart are chosen. It’s because they are logical choices for people who want to live on campus, and for personal financial reasons need to live cheaply. If you raise the cost of living on campus by $1200, you’re taking away the opportunity for some people to experience campus life.” Jagush said.
At this point, since the decision has already been approved by the University, the only way to avoid the plan coming to fruition would be for the student senate and other student organizations to convey to University authorities that mandatory meal plans would not serve the students best interest, and that they should repeal their decision. Student senate will soon vote, based on student input, on what actions to take in this regard.

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