UA calls for new meal plans
By Katherine Shim
Yesterday the Undergraduate Association overwhelmingly passed a proposal of the UA Food Service Committee which suggested the reduction of dormitory dining services to dinner only, a 10 percent discount meal plan system and no mandatory plans for students living in dormitories without dining facilities.
Under the terms of the proposal, dining hall facilities at Baker, MacGregor and Next House will remain open for dinner only. To accommodate the need for breakfast and lunch, convenience stores will be open in these dormitories during daytime hours.
Under the proposal's terms, residents of these three dormitories will be required to purchase a $500-per-term declining balance meal plan. This differs from a mandatory $1835 meal plan that
was suggested in December, according to Paul L. Antico '91, chair of the food service committee.
No mandatory meal plan would be required for MIT students not living in Baker, MacGregor or Next House.
The committee further suggested that all those who purchase meal plans receive a 10 percent discount on all food purchases.
The 10 percent discount system would give students living in Independent Living Groups an incentive to buy a meal plan. Graduate students and faculty would also find it advantageous to purchase plans, increasing the total market of the food service contractor, Antico said.
"It is our belief," said Antico, "that a 10 percent discount on food purchases to those paying with a meal card will provide the
food contractor with a significant profit, and there may even be no need for mandatory meal plans in the next two or three years."
The committee also suggests that McCormick dining hall be converted into a health food facility where health, vegetarian and kosher foods would be sold. Dining facilities would no longer be available, and a mandatory meal plan would no longer be required for McCormick residents.
The convenience store would be open to all members of the MIT community and there is a possibility that new entrances to the area will be built, according to Antico.
In those dormitories with cooking facilities, the committee asks that these facilities be "maintained at operable standards."
Under proposed plan, Lobdell
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dining facilities will remain open for all meals, with the recommendation that expanded seating arrangements be made for prime lunch hours. To address crowded lunch hour concerns, the committee will also explore the feasibility of reopening a Lobby 13 "lunch court" which had been open in previous years.
Walker dining hall will be open for lunch and dinner, according to the plan, and a convenience store will be open during breakfast hours.
The committee finally strongly recommended that MIT employ a food service contractor which possesses the rights to open a fast-food franchise like McDonald's, Pizza Hut or Sbarro.
Sophia Yen '93 expressed concern on the quality of food that would be offered. "I would like to see more healthy food than McDonald's or pizza being offered -- a sandwich store would be better. Also, who is to say that this new food contractor would offer quality food?" she said.
Council member Jory D. Bell '91 expressed vegetarian concerns saying, "In an informal poll that I conducted, about 50 percent of Bexley residents are vegetarians, but vegetarian fare at Lobdell is sub-standard. There is a very good, ARA-run vegetarian meal plan offered by [Boston University]. I would like to see these concerns addressed as well."
The proposal passed with a vote of 32-1 and no abstentions.
Preliminary MIT plan differs
According to Antico, the preliminary ideas of the administration are that residents of Baker, MacGregor and Next House, must purchase a mandatory, split
meals-per-week and declining balance plan, of which the meals-per-week portion alone would total $500 per term.
Under this plan, students would have to eat five dinners per week in a residence dining hall, totaling $500 per term. If the student wished to eat breakfast or lunch at MIT dining facilities, they would have to purchase more money on their plan on a declining balance system.
Students expressed dissatisfaction with the Institute plan as described by Lawrence E. Maguire, director of housing and food services.
"The point of view of the administration," Antico said, "is that contractors would need to be ensured that some people would eat at the dormitory dining halls. If people don't, then MIT loses money."
The food service committee is expected to submit its proposal to Maguire next week. An Institute board plan should be completed within the next few weeks, at which time the process of looking for contractors will begin.
Third floor proposal considered
At yesterday's meeting, the UA Executive Board also addressed the presence of a peace activists' center on the third floor of the Julius A. Stratton Student Center
by considering a proposal which recommended that the third floor of the Student Center be used exclusively as a lounge area.
The executive board defined the war in the Middle East as a special circumstance and advocated the continued utilization of the third floor balcony of the Student Center as a temporary postering space until the war ends.
The executive board also suggested that the space provided on the east wall of the third floor balcony be divided "exclusively and evenly between recognized student activities that advocate anti-war and pro-Operation Desert Storm sentiments."
Bapna said, "Concern about the Initiative for Peace [in the Middle East]'s decision to set up on the third floor lounge brings up issues of free speech."
At the next UA meeting, members of the Initiative for Peace and representatives of those in the community who want them to vacate the third floor will debate the issue.
Also discussed at the meeting was the upcoming proposal of the UA Alcohol Policy Committee, due within the next four weeks. At the next meeting, the UA Finance Board will present its proposal dealing with the possibility of establishing a student credit union.