When it comes down to it, I think Oklahoma Christian University does a great job at meeting the needs of its students. For instance, who hasn’t received the student announcements email with the school proudly proclaiming how it has improved campus life based on our opinions? And as a whole that is a great thing. But let’s talk about something the school hasn’t addressed yet: meal plans.
I hear this complaint over and over again, and in my time here little has been done about it; meal plans are still required for students living in the dorms. And I have to wonder, why do they require such an expensive plan for poor college students?
I pay for my education with no loans and no help from my parents. I’ve been saving up for college on my own, and I like to see my hard-earned money go to good use. My mom knows how stressful it can be for me, so when she saw how much more expensive an apartment was compared to a dorm, she was nervous – until I showed her my new meal plan.
When I lived in the dorms, the least expensive meal plan I was allowed to choose was two meals a day for seven days a week. Once you move into the apartments, a meal plan is still required, but you can choose to eat there once a day for five days instead. Of course, this depends on what phase you move into, but I ended up saving over $500 on meals alone just by moving into the apartment. It was pretty sweet.
Then I also hear of juniors and seniors who live in the dorms because they’re RAs. All of these RAs are required to live in the dorm, and therefore are required to have a meal plan – a cost I’m sure outweighs most of their income. What then is the point of having that job?
The way I see it, students living in the dorms have to pay for a meal plan just in case they have no other options for a place to eat. Having a meal plan does benefit a lot of people, such as students who can’t cook or who can’t eat off campus. While I don’t know how long meal plans have been mandatory for students, I have a feeling this is a tradition.
But the times have changed. Look at the facts: besides a living room, the main difference between an apartment and a dorm is a kitchen and refrigerator. This is actually not a huge difference these days. Most dorms have a public kitchen they can access at any time they want (unlike the caf), and most students bring up their own mini fridge and freezer. So if students wanted, they could definitely make their own meals at home in the dorms without having to pay the caf a visit.
The caf has started to offer more meal options for students since I’ve come here, and that is great (I love the idea of using a swipe to go to the Grill instead of the caf). But there are still students who pay to eat in the caf and never use even half of their swipes. What does the school do with all that money?
If we can’t do away with mandatory meal plans, maybe a refund would be a better option for students who didn’t use their swipes. With a refund, students could put the money towards tuition if they wanted. There doesn’t have to be any money wasted.
Most students never take full advantage of their mandatory meal plan. They could eat every day at Taco Bell and still pay less than what they are paying now. So why are we forced to pay so much?
Caleb Henry is a sophomore at Oklahoma Christian University