Ryan Hall options announced

Rebecca Dunphy, Staff writer

In response to student concerns, Mercyhurst officials announced the addition of two new meal plan options for future Ryan Hall residents.

On March 29, President Michael T. Victor announced that sophomores living in Ryan Hall will now be able to choose from the following plans: Erie Unlimited Plan (unlimited board swipes, $150 Bonus Bucks), Complete Plan (225 meals per semester, $150 Bonus Bucks) and Daily Diner Plan (185 meals per semester, $150 Bonus Bucks). Students living in Briggs, Lewis or Duval will still have the option to choose any plan.

The changes came in response to student concerns expressed at the MSG Spring Forum on March 26 and responses to an MSG email survey sent to students on March 28.

“After reviewing the feedback from the student forum and a robust response to yesterday’s MSG survey, I have decided to allow the residents of Ryan Hall considerable choice in their selection of a meal plan,” Victor said in announcing the new options.

Victor said that he appreciated student feedback, as students expressed concerns about the announcement that Ryan Hall students would be expected to carry a meal plan and the original meal plan option.

Freshman Emma Riedl, an Early Childhood Special Education major, was concerned about the cost of the original option, that would provide students to unlimited board access, similar to their freshman year.

“A lot of students did not budget for a meal plan for their sophomore year because they did not realize it would be forced, so they cannot afford it,” said Riedl.

After the university announced the addition of new options, however, Riedl said she was “glad Mercyhurst listened to its students.”

“I feel that they addressed student concerns to a degree and were willing to compromise,” said Riedl.

The Ryan Hall dining options were one of several topics at the MSG Spring Forum, which drew a crowd of students in the Student Union Great Room.

The first of the night’s three speakers was Parkhurst general manager Dean Schoenfeldt, who discussed changes in the upcoming year, specifically regarding new dining hall hours, the Ryan Hall dining services, and sophomore requirements.

Schoenfeldt explained that Ryan Hall would combine the styles of the Laker and Grotto Commons to provide students with more flexibility. The board hall will be similar to Grotto Commons, offering students “all you-care-to-eat” while the additional retail center will be more similar to the Laker, allowing students to get items on-the-go.

The next speaker, Megan McKenna, director of Residence Life and Student Conduct, responded to students’ concerns about the requirement to live on campus all four years.

She went on to explain that these new changes were not to prevent students from being able to live off campus, but rather to keep better record of who was doing so.

Regarding Ryan Hall, students were assured that the building was on track to open in August.

McKenna and David Myron, vice president for Finance and Administration, explained to students that the construction of Ryan Hall — and all other plans for resident hall improvements — will improve the quality of life on campus for Mercyhurst students.

“The ultimate goal is to make some improvements and really take a look at what our residence halls and apartments look like,” said Myron.

Myron went on to lead the third discussion of the evening, regarding the university’s liquor license application and possible pub.

The evening continued with a brief question-and-answer session where students were able to ask questions, get clarifications, and voice their concerns.

Freshman Senator Noelle Zesky was one of the many students there to share her thoughts on Ryan Hall and new sophomore dining requirements. She briefly shared another student’s testimony, representing concern about pricing.

Overall, Zesky was happy with how students came together to make concerns known to administration.

“It was a solid effort for students to come out and voice our grievances and try and make our voices heard,” she said. “It was so moving to see the amount of turnout there was, and it really showed how the students here are a united front and don’t mind voicing our opinions.”