By Birpartap Singh
Should the McClurg meal plan be optional? It seems this conversation happens often on the mountain. On a bad day in McClurg, one may hear derogatory comments at many tables. On a good day, the talk is all about how much McClurg has changed for the better in the time that we have been in our bubble. Would it be beneficial to the University, downtown, and the students if the meal plan became optional?
I do not think the meal plan should be optional unless a student is living off campus or in a themed house. Students should consider how their economic states may change if they go off the meal plan. Unless those who think they want to opt out enjoy cooking and are willing to cook three meals a day (or live on ramen noodles–not healthy compared to the many different choices at McClurg), they will most likely experience a tremendous increase in their cost of living. If these students are not the best cooks or cannot live off junk, they will probably hit up Julia’s or The Blue Chair on a daily basis. Going to Julia’s more than once a day can add up; going multiple times per week would cost tremendous amounts of money over the course of a semester. Also, since we are so isolated on this beautiful mountain, it makes sense to have an entity such as McClurg. In addition to economic factors, I think McClurg is a big part of our student community, social interactions that many shouldn’t miss out on until at least senior year.
The meal plan and McClurg are essential parts of the University’s function. The McClurg meal plan as it is now is, economically, very feasible. Since the contract termination with Aramark, the quality of McClurg has tremendously increased. Gaby Spangenberg (C’14) gave her opinion on McClurg, stating that she loves it and that we should be happy and consider ourselves lucky to have a dining hall such as McClurg: “The amount of options we have are unlimited in a sense and we should not take that for granted. Our food is amazing compared to other colleges.”
In agreement with Gaby, Abbey Moore (C’16P said, “I have been here for three semesters and compared to the things that I have been hearing about the past state of McClurg, I am really happy with the quality– especially the healthy options.” I happen to agree with the two: the food has tremendously improved over the three years that I have been here.
McClurg staff gives us so many options on a daily basis. Granted, in my opinion, it is not good every day. Still, there are many options. McClurg is improving every year and I think it will continue to get better. McClurg is now able to help the surrounding community farmers, and I think in the next few years they will buy a majority of their food from the local areas.
It is sustainable, going along with the University’s sustainability motto pretty well. It is cheaper than many schools, but still expensive enough to avoid McClurg turning into a low-tier dining hall service. McClurg is designed to function with the majority of the students on the meal plan. In the case of an optional meal plan, McClurg would have to heavily reduce hours and lay off a huge amount of its workforce. McClurg is great, and if they were not already trying to improve every day, there might be some argument in making meal plans optional. I think for now we should stick with the way things are. Not many times in your life will you have so much food made by hard working people available at the swipe of a card.