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U of C, Students’ Union clash on residence meal plan consultation

By Tina Shaygan, October 16 2017 — 

The University of Calgary is standing its ground over concerns surrounding lack of student consultation regarding proposed changes to the residence meal plan. Potential changes include turning the Dining Centre into an ‘All You Care to Eat’ service, reductions to Food Funds and prohibiting taking food out of the Dining Centre unless pre-ordered.

Students’ Union vice-president student life Hilary Jahelka said that while some of these changes may be positive, such as increased food quality, she is concerned about the lack of student involvement in the process.

The U of C declined an interview but provided information through email. According to the email, Food and Conference Services conducted face-to-face consultations from April 37 in the Dining Centre, speaking to a total of 164 students.

Given the complexity of the topic, face-to-face informative dialogue and discussion is more effective,” the email read.

The U of C added that Food and Conference Services consultations involved several questions, such as which meal plan the students were on, what year they were in and if they had any feedback on the current meal plan. According to the email, they also shared with the students “key insights from other Canadian universities and the success they experience on ‘All You Care to Eat’ programs available through food service providers” and ultimately asked if they supported an ‘All You Care to Eat’ program.

The email stated that of the 164 students, 140 said they liked the idea, 16 said they did not and eight provided no answer.

Jahelka said concerns regarding a reduction in Food Funds and the lack of choice on where students spend their money were brought up last year by the SU and the Residence Students’ Association.

While there may have been some consultation, we feel as if the stuff we have brought forward hasn’t been addressed,” she said. “We’re still getting students coming to us who are very upset.”

Jahelka added that she felt the number of students surveyed in the Dining Centre does not accurately represent students living in residence.

“There should have been surveys sent out or something with a larger reach,” she said.

Gauntlet reporters spoke to 38 students at the Dining Centre on Oct. 4 regarding the proposed plan. Out of the 38 students approached, two had heard about the potential changes.

The RSA declined an interview regarding the meal plan proposals. The U of C Board of Governor will vote on the final changes in December.

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