Mandatory meal plans are unnecessary

Ashley Barletta, News Editor

As returning students moved in this semester, many were looking forward to going to Grotto Commons with their friends. However, meal plans were not activated until August 24 at 4 p.m., the night before classes began. This was disappointing to many students, especially sophomores who were required to purchase an unlimited meal plan. We [students] were being told that we could not use the meal plan that we did not ask for. We also had to pay extra money for any of the meals purchased from the dining hall before August 24. This is wrong for so many reasons. According to university administration, the cost of the meal plan was calculated based on the number of days which the meal plan would be active. That being said, it would not have been very hard to calculate a few extra days into the blended housing and meal plan rates. We were already disappointed in the high cost of the unlimited meal plan we are forced to buy, so it does not make sense to disappoint us twice by saying we can’t even use it when we move in. A Residence Life email received on July 12 stated that we could begin moving in on Saturday, Aug. 21. It was only after I contacted Residence Life as well as Parkhurst Dining that I was notified of “early move-ins” being any time before August 24. This is because upperclassmen were not required to move in before August 24. This setup also disregards the parents who have to help their children move in. Many people work on weekdays, and some can not afford to (or would rather not) take a Tuesday off to help their child move in when they can just move them in on a weekend. As a student stuck in this situation, I had to bring my own food to cook, or make sure I had Dining Dollars on my OneCard (I didn’t) since nobody seems to know whether the Grotto is accepting cash or not. I am fortunate enough to live in a Briggs apartment where I have my own kitchen, so I was able to cook for a few days until the meal plan was activated, but not everyone was as lucky. So, to the Mercyhurst University administration who does not want to take responsibility for all of the students who are unhappy with this situation, here is your wake-up call: nobody asked for the unlimited meal plan, we are definitely not paying extra money for food if we can help it and it should not be up to a student to bring up these issues in the newspaper just to get someone to listen to her.