Views: Don't eliminate all-flex plan

May 13, 2012 | 9 a.m.

Busy students rely on the all-flex plan, and Sodexo has not been transparent with the change

Views | Sandra Wakeman

Don't eliminate all-flex plan

A 3-meal plan will force students to eat in the DC | Kate Beecken

On-campus flex will not be an option next year, as students have recently realized.

As I signed my housing contract for next year, it clearly stated that we needed a meal plan contract if we were to live in any of the residence halls. Like previous years, I assumed this would include on-campus flex as an option. As I researched the price of flex for next year, I discovered that it wasn’t an option, and to avoid these changes in flex, I decided to move to North Village, which is on the off-campus flex plan.

Unfortunately, there was no clear announcement made to the student body before room selection that the cheapest meal plan would be $1,200 more.

There is very little value to the new meal plan. With jobs, off-campus course requirements and allergies impacting when and what students can eat, flex allows people to live on campus but avoid eating meals in the Monson Dining Center. Now, to get the most flexibility, students must purchase the 3-meal plan. At $3,460 a year, it includes three meals a week in the Dining Center and $1,800 flex. The remaining $1,660 is dedicated to meal blocks, averaging $15.37 a meal. That’s more than current dinner prices!

In a recent Clarion article, Food Services argued that people asked for this in a survey. Sodexo said that the change is intended to increase community, that flex isn’t commonly used and that an effort was made to inform everyone.

First of all, we have no idea what was asked on the surveys, what groups of people were given them or if the surveys mentioned the possibilities of increased costs. If you asked me if I thought it would be cool for Bethel to have a waterpark, I’d say yes. If you asked if I’d be willing to pay for it, I’d say absolutely not.

If we want more people in the Dining Center to build community, require a 3-meal plan but make it similar to the price of all-flex this year. There is a 53.8 percent increase in cost from the price of on-campus flex this year to the 3-meal plan next year.

The idea that flex is unpopular led me to do an informal survey in a junior-level class. Easily half of the class living on campus was either on all-flex or wanted to be on all-flex next year.

Finally, no one was well-informed. To this day, there has not been an official email sent out stating the specific changes for next year. It’s true that people could have researched meal plans for next year. However, after signing the same housing contract year after year, there would be no reason to believe anything changed.

Food services has also made exceptions to nursing majors and student teachers by offering them a $2,300 on-campus flex plan for next year. There are many departments at Bethel that require time-consuming internships to graduate. Students live different lifestyles and shouldn’t have their majors determine their meal plan options.

As students, we constantly learn about bringing ethics into the workplace. Large corporations have fallen apart because they weren’t transparent in their practices. Since Sodexo and Food Services has a monopoly here, there is no competition to mitigate price increases and protect students. As a Christian institution, we should live out what we teach in all aspects of life.

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