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Simmons May Have Meal Plan

By Jennifer B. Krishnan

NEWS EDITOR

Residents of Simmons Hall may be required to purchase a meal plan next year.

Vikash Gilja ’03, Simmons Hall steering committee co-chair, said the issue had not yet been resolved, but that a decision would probably be made in the next two weeks.

“From upperclassmen’s perspectives, we don’t want anything mandatory at all,” Gilja said. “But from [the Dean for Student Life’s] perspective ... all the dorm dining halls are losing money.”

Ultimately, Dean for Student Life Larry G. Benedict will decide whether Simmons will have a mandatory meal plan, but he will take suggestions from the steering committee, the future housemasters and associate housemasters, and Director of Campus Dining Richard D. Berlin III, Gilja said.

Multiple proposals considered

While the possibility of a campus-wide mandatory meal plan has been essentially eliminated, “the Dean for Student Life sees [Simmons] as a new project: we can put in new ideas, we can start over again,” Gilja said. “But we don’t want things to go overboard. We don’t want there to be a massive overhead for students moving into Simmons.” Still, Gilja said, it is important that the dining hall not lose money.

“We’re trying to balance both ends.”

In terms of a specific meal plan, Gilja said several options were currently being considered.

The original proposal, he said, was to have five mandatory dinner meals each week, “based on an up-front price to students, which would guarantee that the dining hall [would break] even.

“But we don’t necessarily have to go that far, if the vendor is willing to assume more risk,” he said.

“We don’t see this as necessarily a very bad thing,” Gilja said. There is the “potential that if everybody used the dining hall, it could help build community.” There is also the issue of quality: “if we have more mandatory meals, potentially we could have better quality food,” Gilja said.

However, while Simmons is expected to open in time for the beginning of the fall term, the dining hall is not. Campus Activities Complex Director Phillip J. Walsh said Simmons residents would be served by Next House dining until November.

Next House president Vikram Maheshri ’03 said one possibility was for dining services to prepare food at Next House and “truck it over” to Simmons.

Next House could get late night cafe

Next House residents seeking a late-night snack may soon have an additional option.

In April, $3 million renovations of Next House dining will begin, Walsh said. The renovations are scheduled to be completed before the fall term begins.

Next House dining is “mainly a convenient place to have dinner ... But I think the renovations will change that,” said Adam S. Champy ’04, a Next House resident involved with planning the renovations. “People are going to want to be here.”

The newly renovated dining area will feature a private dining room for presentations and seminars, and a cafe in the entry to the dining area, Champy said.

He added that the cafe might be kept open late at night.

Next House dining is “currently open until 8 [p.m.], but stuff starts to shut down a little earlier than that,” Champy said.

“The dining hall was built in 1981, and the usual tear and wear over 21 years” warrants these renovations, said housemaster Borivoje Mikic.

He said that after renovations are complete, the dining hall “will attract not only our students but [also] students from other dorms.”