Alabama Students Fight Mandatory Meal Plans
Should universities be able to force students to buy meal plans for the cafeteria? Alabama students are suing to end the practice.
Should universities be able to force students to buy meal plans for the cafeteria? Students at Alabama, Auburn, and UAB are suing to end the practice.
“These fees are not tuition and not related to class instruction,” attorney John F. Whitaker of Whitaker, Mudd, Simms, Luke & Wells said in a statement. “Instead, these food fees are mandated because these state schools have agreed to give certain food vendors exclusive control over these student food purchases in exchange for millions of dollars being paid back to the school. The students themselves are given no option.”
“In these tough economic times, students and families struggle to sustain the cost of higher education,” the statement reads. “Many are using loans, work study and minimum-wage jobs to finance their education. They need not be further burden(ed) by being forced to enrich (food vendors) using the state power of a public university.”
According to Deedie Dowdle, AU executive director of communications and marketing, Auburn priced the plans “at less than half what students were spending on dining a day, realizing they would want to eat beyond campus as well.”
“Dining on campus provides a valuable social support network and contributes to student success by providing convenience between classes and late-night study breaks, without the worry of leaving campus and finding a parking spot,” Dowdle said in a statement.
At Auburn, the cheapest plan available for on-campus students is $995 per semester and those who live off campus must pay $300. That’s pretty cheap for three months of hot meals.
But why should the university force students to pay for meals they may not want? Let alone state universities?
Presumably, the mandatory meal plans allow the vendor to plan more efficiently and help keep the costs down for those who want to eat in the campus dining facility. But that’s not a compelling enough government interest to force adult students to fork over a thousand bucks.
Then again, universities get away with charging hundreds of dollars in athletic fees to support sports teams that most of them likely don’t care about. Surely, incentivizing them to eat something other than pizza and Ramen noodles is more in line with their charter than that?
via Inside Higher Ed