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Simmons Dining Fee Subsidizes Meal Costs

By Jennifer Krishnan


Simmons Hall residents will be required to pay a $200 dining subsidy per semester, which will entitle them to purchase meals at Simmons Dining at a reduced cost.

“The basic idea is that students put up a certain amount of money that goes toward labor costs,” said Simmons Hall Steering Committee Co-chair Vikash Gilja ’03. “Then they can buy food at the cost of food and not labor, so about a 50 percent discount.”

According to Gilja, students were expected to offer much more money up front in the original plan, which meant they “would be locked into” a large number of meals at Simmons.

The latest proposal states that the $200 “is anticipated to provide most of the resources needed to cover the dining service labor costs; the difference between the student contribution and the actual cost will be covered by the Office of the Dean for Student Life.”

Members of the Simmons Hall Steering Committee presented their proposal to Dean for Student Life Larry G. Benedict last week. Benedict said he was pleased with the plan.

“I think it’s a great idea,” Benedict said. “It’s very creative and very clever. ... I think it will go a long way toward creating a great sense of community.”

CMI students suggest new ideas

“This proposal was initiated at the student level,” wrote Simmons Hall Housemaster John M. Essigmann in an e-mail sent to the sponge-talk mailing list.

While the new plan still includes a mandatory fee, “the obligation to come on any given night is not as strong, from a financial standpoint,” he said.

“A lot of these ideas came from the CMI [Cambridge-MIT Institute] program, from the MIT students in Cambridge and the Cambridge students here at MIT,” Gilja added.

At Cambridge University, “there’s a fixed cost, and all meals are discounted ... the basic idea is the same,” he said.

Details of the plan were sent to sponge-talk and everyone on the transfer list to Simmons as of Tuesday.

“Most of the feedback I’ve seen so far is positive,” Vikash said. “People have said it’s a fairly novel plan.”

Gretchen K. Aleks ’04 said she had thought about moving to Simmons, but had given up on the idea after hearing it would have a mandatory meal plan.

“But $200 isn’t that significant compared to costs around here,” she said after hearing about the new plan.

The dining hall in Simmons is expected to open in November.

“We’re working on a transitional plan,” Gilja said. He said one option was to set up a tent and serve meals there every night until the dining hall opens.

Under the latest proposal, Simmons Dining will be open from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Sunday though Thursday, as well as for brunch on Sunday. The Simmons Night Cafe will be open from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

The current proposal can be found on the Web at .

Many on Simmons transfer list

As of yesterday, the deadline to get on the transfer list for Simmons, 243 students had listed Simmons as their first choice dormitory for the transfer housing lottery, Gilja said.

“Everyone who put it [Simmons] as their first choice will definitely get it,” he said.

“We also have at least one person from every dormitory,” Gilja added.

Of the 243 students who ranked Simmons first, two are currently seniors, 73 are juniors, 80 sophomores, and 88 are currently freshmen.

And “CPW [Campus Preview Weekend] went well,” Gilja said. He said he estimated that they gave at least 100 people tours.

“The prefrosh had positive questions,” Gilja said. “They were not just concerned about what kind of room they’d get.” They asked questions about the house government, and “seemed excited by idea of developing a new community.”