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Students should have more dining options during break

Being a student on campus over break is frustrating. There are a few benefits for those who enjoy quiet time—everything is significantly less busy, and parking is not nearly the nightmare it can be before a break for those in residence halls, and even local apartment complexes have way fewer parking spaces filled over breaks. But in the inverse, you’re losing a few facilities, such as the package delivery center. The most frustrating issue I’ve encountered staying on campus is the closure of the dining halls. It may be easier to park over break, but the trade-off is a lack of food access for students living in break housing.

Students who pay for the basic unlimited meal plan with no extra dining dollars will pay $3,245 for the 2024-2025 school year. This is a large sum of money to pay just to not be able to access food during breaks. York and Hilltop, the two dining halls that take meal swipes, are closed over the break, including both weekends. Normally, the Bear’s Den in the Memorial Union provides an additional option for unlimited students, who can have two meals a week there counted as part of their meal plan. This is typically food of a somewhat higher quality than the dining halls and is paid for by real money when not covered by meal exchange. The Bear’s Den was open for limited hours over break. The problem with this is that meal exchanges were not offered to students over the break. Bear’s Den prices can run quite high for college students, especially when it’s the only food option on campus, and they have to eat there consistently for two meals a week. That could very quickly add up. This sum should also be considered in addition to meal plan money. Students pay around $3,000 for a meal plan that they can’t access over break despite the fact that they’re still on campus in the dorms they’ve also paid for. 

This becomes more frustrating when considering the population of students who are on campus over break. DTAV and Patch house many upperclassmen who are here over break and have access to a stove and/or oven. This mitigates some of the stress of not having meal plan options over break, as most DTAV and Patch residents already have a lesser meal plan and simply prepare their own food. However, for Hart, Hancock, and Knox residents, the closure of dining halls is a significant problem. For these students who are not allowed to have cooking equipment in their dorms besides a small microwave, their choice becomes eating off campus or eating at the Bear’s Den. Either way, they’re spending extra money for the food that should be covered during the break. Staffing shouldn’t be an issue for these halls, as many other groups of employees are still expected to work over student break. The last hall open for the break, York, makes the decision not to have the dining halls open even more appalling. Students are living in York Hall over break, but there are no food options in York Dining for said students.

Students should be able to use their meal plan over the break if they stay on campus. Those in continuous housing dorms have no choice but to spend additional money to stay here over break. This should not be happening with the amount of money we spend on unlimited meal plans.

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