Thoughts on requiring an unlimited meal plan for all four years

Ashley Barletta, Staff writer

A meal plan is one of the main concerns for residential college students, especially first-year students who are new to the college experience. Mercyhurst is now requiring an unlimited meal plan for all students starting with freshman in the fall of 2020 throughout their four years here.
This is so that they do not have to worry about running out of meal swipes while adapting to their new environment.
Though this seems to be very useful, there is much controversy among students surrounding the topic.
“It’s convenient, but I don’t think it should be required” said Holly O’Donald, freshman Intelligence Studies major. “I can understand if it would be highly recommended, especially for those first entering into college, but it’s unnecessary for those who are not freshmen. I’m also not sure of the goal they want to achieve in making us have an unlimited meal plan all four years.”
For me, an unlimited meal plan means there is one less thing I have to stress about.
I don’t have to worry about not having enough meal swipes to last me through the semester, and it’s not like students aren’t taking advantage of the unlimited meal plan, either.
Since the Grotto Commons is an all-you-care-to-eat facility, nobody can stop you from taking five slices of pizza, even if you aren’t going to eat them all right then and there.
However, I had no idea that I was required to have an unlimited meal plan while living on campus until I agreed to write this article.
In searching through the numerous emails I have received since June of this year, I have not found anything about my meal plan.
Not that I’m complaining, but it would have been nice to know about before moving in.
I can also understand why some people may not like the idea of being forced to spend their money on an unlimited meal plan, because they may not have the need for one.
It is uncommon for many students to eat breakfast in the first place, but I have also heard of some students having back-to-back classes from early morning to mid-afternoon.
These people do not necessarily have time to stop at the dining hall in between classes, and can probably only go in the evening.
Although they could stock up on food from Hurst-in-a-Hurry, it is not ideal to do so because they would have to carry the food around in their book bags until they could bring it to their dorms, where they may not have a mini fridge to store it in.
Plus, there are no microwaves in the dormitories, and therefore, students would need to use the ones in the communal kitchen area in their residence halls.
Although I can’t be sure how I will feel as a junior or senior, in the end, I like having an unlimited meal plan for now.
Whether I am running to the Grotto after my 9 a.m. class for coffee before going to work study, or sitting at one of the picnic tables outside with my friends after a long day, I am happy to be able to swipe my OneCard whenever I need to get out of my dorm and relax.