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An emergency Senate meeting was held last Monday to discuss the issue of dining as drafts of reports from both the Blue Ribbon Committee (BRC) on Dining and the entirely-student Dining Proposal Committee (DPC) had been published last week.

Senators expressed concern over the BRC’s report, especially regarding the increase in mandatory fees for students living in dorms with dining halls. The issues articulated dealt both with the doubling of fees from $300 to $600 for buying into the “Individualized Eating Plan” and the high opt-out fee of $500. Donna Denoncourt, the BRC chair, explained that this was to cover the fixed costs of the house dining system.

Students felt that the higher fees would be a negative because the cost difference between living in dorm with a dining hall and a dorm without one should not play a major role in the student’s choice of residence, since data shows that dining options do not factor into the residence decision for most students. Additionally, students felt uncomfortable with the fact that the residents who would opt-out of the program would be subsidizing a program that they have expressed no interest in. The Blue Ribbon Committee representatives explained that this decision was made to address the need to make the in-house dining system more independent of other dining systems at MIT, and, therefore, more sustainable.

The Senate passed a resolution in support of the Dining Proposal Committee’s report, which opposed mandatory dining for any student, regardless of residence, in the long run, while offering suggestions for increasing, but centralizing, dining options.

—Elizabeth Denys,
UA Secretary General