Two things common to most Davidson students, food and the School Facebook group have created our campus’s most recent controversy, about the condition of our Meal Plans. Sophomore Marc Todd felt “curious about why we pay so much for meal plans,” and published on March 12 his finding that our maximum meal plan (21 per week, required for freshmen) costs $2,000 more than its equivalent at the average American college or university. Further, we are expected, in general, to pay more than students elsewhere for Meal Plans at school. Many complain of issues regarding food at Davidson, from unsustainable or unhealthy practices to lack of options.
However, this particular one has immediate relevance to all students and should perhaps, therefore, be addressed first. The College Dining Services page decrees its department’s commitment to affordability, so why the extra charging? Several possibilities have been suggested. The quality of an institution’s program, suggested one commenter on Todd’s post, impacts the amount of money needed to run it. That is, healthier or fresher foods would cost more to buy, especially in bulk. Yet the quality of Davidson’s food, while certainly not bad, does not seem markedly better than that of other colleges/universities. Indeed, the Davis Cafe in our Union mostly sells meals comprised of items like bread, lettuce, or chicken, for which significant worldwide demand keeps prices reasonable. Commons, meanwhile, sometimes has unusual offerings– perhaps some of these, like their themed meals (Game of Thrones lunch, Cheerwine dinner, etc.) increase the overall cost? But these are often sponsored or put on to attract more people to eat at Commons (which simultaneously bolsters Commons’ competitivity. Those in charge of Davidson’s food have thus far remained silent. Yet student opinions grow increasingly negative: we lack an obvious explanation for the extra charge. If the school cannot bring down the cost of meals here, which, though the best option, seems unlikely to occur without worsening the department’s offerings, they could at least publicly make efforts toward bettering this situation. Perhaps they have made or are making strides toward a solution, but no news has confirmed this, In fact, a lack of communication from Davidson’s administration.
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