Swarthmore students are not alone in their dining hall dread; the monotony of the same cuisine day after day, week after week, strikes students at every school. However, there are ways to combat the tedium of Sharples and Essies: expanded dining options. According to an email received by students on Wednesday, four years of feedback, comparison with dining options at other institutions, focus groups, and committee meetings had culminated in a new dining plan to be implemented starting in the 2016-2017 year. This new plan features three major components: 1) flexibility in the meal plan options available to students, 2) block plans that have meals and points that are not capped on a weekly but a semester-long basis, and 3) expanded point options, allowing a greater number of maximum meal points based on the plan a student selects, and the ability to use these points off-campus in the Ville. In addition to these new developments, during this semester, Grab-n-Go was moved to a more convenient location, and Sharples recently instituted a “to-go” option as well.
We at the Phoenix applaud this initiative, as it enables students to enjoy far greater variety in their dining options. For students who have specific dietary restrictions or needs, as well as students who are simply tired of the same Sharples bars or Essie’s specials, the expansion of choices is extremely beneficial. It is heartening to see Dining Services taking student feedback so seriously by involving off-campus options as well. Allowing meals to carry over from week to week is also greatly appreciated, as it allows students greater freedom in opting to use their swipes as they please throughout the semester, whether that is several visits across one week, or just a few. While the price of the meal plan is increasing by 3.5 percent, an increase that has been consistent across several years, the email itself describes the specific breakdown as to where the increased revenue will go. This transparency is also a positive development that makes us students feel more included in the process of improving student life and the Swarthmore experience overall.
The end of the email welcomed continued feedback and conveyed a continued commitment to addressing students’ evolving concerns; we are happy to see that the college is genuinely considerate of what students want and is actively working to cater to our needs.