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MIT should let LaVerde's accept Validine cards

Not too long ago a new store known as LaVerde's appeared in the Student Center. The prices at LaVerde's are extremely reasonable, especially when compared with dining hall prices. In addition to the typical market foods, products include flowers, greeting cards, deli sandwiches, and more.

A few days after its grand opening, I entered the store to see if it was really as fabulous as my friend Dave had said. I didn't expect to find a large white suggestion box to be standing on the counter right beside the cashier. I asked myself why this store would need any suggestions for improvement. In response, I quickly grabbed a pen and suggested they accept Validine cards.

Two weeks later, much to my surprise, I received a letter from the owner of LaVerde's -- Frank LaVerde. In the letter he explained that the Institute will not allow his store to become part of the meal plan system. However, he agreed with me that, ideally, "students would use their debit card to purchase products from our store." This would give the students more choices for meals, which presently are not particularly good.

Some other colleges use a universal debit card. One such example is "The Duke Card," which can be used in any on-campus food service operation or retail place of business on the Duke University campus. If students who live in Baker House, MacGregor House, and 500 Memorial Drive must buy an MIT meal plan, shouldn't they have some say in the matter? If the food service operation will accept the card as payment, and if a student wishes to purchase products from the store, then the meal plan office should be willing enough to reach some agreement with that store.

Surely there is a reason for not allowing LaVerde's to go on "Validine." ARA, the manager of food services and dining halls at MIT, is at fault. Rumors have been going around that allowing a food store that carries reasonably-priced products to share Validine would bring about ARA financial losses.

If the card could be used in places like LaVerde's, ARA would have to increase the quality of food in order to maintain the same number of customers. Students deserve top-quality food considering what they pay.

Ron M. Zorea '92->