Meal plans in need of updating

Gracie Wilson, Collegian Managing Editor

Upon touring Ashland University, everyone raves about how good the student dining services are and how amazing the food is. To an extent, they are right. The food is good. But the plans in place for students to acquire it leave something to be desired.
The first thing that needs to be improved are the choices for students who are not on campus for all of their meals. Nursing students expressed that they have no options at the College of Nursing campus. The café that was at the college has shut down, and there is nothing provided by AU for them to eat.
As a result, this forces nursing students to pack their lunch or go out to eat between their classes. So, Ashland University is basically asking these students to, on top of their meal plan, buy groceries to pack multiple lunches a week or buy restaurant food. On top of the gas money to drive to Mansfield, this starts to get very pricey.
The Mansfield campus is just out of sight out of mind, right? Wrong. Some students are only going there for a couple of classes a week and elect to stay on main campus to be with friends, use the Rec Center or actually eat from the meal plan they have to pay for, so it doesn’t go to waste.
Not only is the plan unfair for nursing students, but for education majors too.
If education majors want to live on campus so they can continue to go to other classes and be with friends, they must buy a meal plan that they do not even get to use most of the time because they are out at school.
This is especially true for student teaching seniors. They desire to have the apartment meal plan of 80 swipes, but they can’t because these students do not always live in the senior apartments. So, these students are being asked to pay for 240 swipes (totaling $2,490) that they are not even here to use.
Another point of student concern is that they do not get the overflow money back from their swipes, instead, the university offers vouchers for students to use at the bookstore.
These vouchers allow students to trade in 30 swipes for $100 dollars at the bookstore. This sounds like a great value until you realize that you cannot buy textbooks with this money or supplies you actually need for class.
The vouchers are not as good of a deal as we think. Each swipe is worth roughly $11, so when you trade in 30 swipes, that totals out to be $330. So, the vouchers are not worth as much as we think, and because we cannot use them for anything we need for classes, many students would prefer to have that money back and pay for something else, like their student loans.
Overall, the meal plan is advertised as a great deal, but there are almost no students who are actually reaping its full value. Something needs to change because the meal plan draws us in and then we find out how much money we are losing after it’s too late.