A new all-you-can-eat meal plan for Lister in 2017-18 will be tabled at a “special” Board Finance and Property Committee meeting tomorrow afternoon.

This is the motion for the meal plan that was sent to committee members at 5 p.m. on December 12.

Vice-President (Facilities and Operations) Andrew Sharman is proposing a two-tiered all-you-can-eat plan. The first tier would cost students $4,650 for unlimited cafeteria access and would allow them to spend $400 on campus outside the dining hall over the entire year. The second tier would cost $4,285 for five days of cafeteria access in the week, and would allow students to spend $300 at campus vendors.

Last month, a 5-4 vote against the proposal halted a $4,550 all-you-can-eat iteration of the pland at the Board Finance and Property Committee. The proposal gives students an option that is $265 cheaper than what was last proposed, but $412 more expensive than what most students currently pay — the new model also restricts students to spending between $300 and $400 at campus vendors.

Lister residents currently can spend any amount of their meal plans at campus vendors. They can also choose between paying $3,873 and $4,554 in a “declining balance” meal plan, which works like a debit card: students pay a base amount into their plan, and use those funds to buy meals. Funds left over can be carried over into the next year.

An all-you-can-eat meal plan would be a one-time charge for students, and no funds would be left over.

“Literally 22 hours of notice”

The “special” Board Finance and Property Committee meeting was announced to committee members December 6, and the motion for the new meal plan was sent to members yesterday afternoon. If the meal plan passes tomorrow at the committee level, it will go up for final approval at the Board of Governors’ meeting this Friday, December 16.

View the agenda here: December 13 BFPC Agenda

Sharman was contacted for this story, but declined to comment on the short-notice meeting, saying only that The Gateway would find out more about the plan tomorrow.

Fahim Rahman, Students’ Union (SU) President, said he was surprised to see a new meal plan going to the committee for approval.

“I thought that the Board Finance and Property Committee sent a pretty clear signal (last month) that more work needs to be done with students to make a meal plan that works for them,” he said. “At this point I’m not sure if the university has any intentions of working with students.”

The SU only met once with Sharman since the last meal plan was voted down on November 21: that meeting was last Friday. Sharman told the SU that Ancillary Services has been running a deficit for four of the past five years — the all-you-can-eat plan was put forward to “balance the books,” Rahman said.

Earlier this semester, the SU surveyed students on what they thought of all-you-can-eat meal plans and found that nine out of ten Lister residents preferred the current declining balance model. Rahman said “he couldn’t imagine” an all-you-can-eat meal plan going forward when the survey showed great student opposition.

Read about what students thought of the all-you-can-eat plan: Students think the proposed Lister meal plan “charges more for less flexibility,” survey says

Rahman added that he liked the new, two-tiered $4,650 or $4,285 proposal more than the plan proposed last month, as it would give students who wanted to cook for themselves over the weekend more flexibility. However, he said the SU was given should have had at least one week of notice to look over the meal plan’s proposal.

“We had literally 22 hours to look over the meal plan proposal,” Rahman said. “I think that board members that sit on (this committee) should be concerned. At the end of the day, we’re talking about more than $2 million of student money that will go into the meal plan. When the administration gives you less than a day to review the rationale for why they want so much money from students, you really think that something isn’t adding up properly.”

More to come…

Images courtesy of Zoe Joyall and Jamie Sarkonak
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