SGA VP craves new meal plan

by Beacon Staff • October 20, 2011

strongHeidi Moeller, Beacon Staff/strong

Exactly one year after nixing meat, poultry, and fish from his diet, junior Tau Zaman celebrated by cutting out all other animal products.

But since going vegan more than a year ago, the Student Government Association vice president has found it difficult to dine in the college’s cafeteria — his options are slim and his one to two daily visits have already consumed half his meal plan.

Fed up, Zaman kicked off a campaign last month to create an all-vegan food station and add an extra campus dining plan that would offer students three meals a day.

“A lot of people have this misconception that LeGrain and Legume is vegan,” he said, referring to the meatless dining hall station. “It’s not; it’s vegetarian. It has cheese. It causes the risk of cross-contamination.”

Currently, Emerson offers five meal plans including a commuter meal plan and meal plans based on either week allowances or semester allowances. The Flex Plan, which is the default option, allows students 650 Board Bucks and 101 meals per semester, as well as 10 guest meals. All of the other options offer significantly less Board Bucks in exchange for an increased number of dining hall meals.

Zaman said he talked to business services about the possibility of adding another meal plan which would guarantee students three meals per day for the entire semester. To move forward, Zaman must navigate a web of bureaucracy, meeting with Business Services, the dean of students, the information technology department and various other college officials.

“My dream goal is to revamp the meal plan where students can eat three times a day without out-of-pocket expenses,” Zaman said.

Junior Faith Howes, performing arts senator, said that she, like Zaman, also found the biggest problem to be that the meal plans do not allow students to eat three meals per day. She said that providing more meals to students per day might increase room and board fees, and that residents may not comply.

This is not the first time the question of adding more meals per day to dining plans has arisen. According to Christina Leal, food service director for Aramark higher education, new meal plans have been added in the past as a result of gathering input from students.

Surveying students is the first initiative senate members are taking, Zaman said. The junior political communication major said that he would like to create a campaign to get members of the Emerson community on board with his idea.

“SGA alone isn’t going to be enough,” Zaman said. “I think it’s possible, but sometimes the things I think are possible and reasonable are things the administration thinks aren’t.”

Area schools such as Boston University and Northeastern University have similar meal plans to Emerson. At both schools, students can choose from plans that offer a set number of dining hall meals per week and a set amount of dollars to be spent at other campus facilities per semester. None of the meal plans at these colleges allot students three meals a day.

Freshmen Kelsie Greene and Stephanie Matthew, visual and media arts majors, said they typically don’t eat three full meals a day, but for the sake of convenience would like it if they had more board bucks to spend at the Paramount, Emerson Cafe, the Commons Cafe, located in the Max Mutchnick campus center, and the convenience store.

“I live in Paramount so I usually eat in the cafe because it is the easiest. I’d like if I could be offered a different option,” Matthew said. “But I wouldn’t use three meals a day because I never eat breakfast.”

Eric Doherty, a junior visual and media arts major, says he thinks SGA’s motion to create a meal option with enough money to have three meals a day is a necessary change. Doherty says an option that offers more Board Bucks would best suit the typical involved Emerson student since he runs out of board bucks much faster than meals.

“Like most Emerson students, I am really busy and I don’t even have time to go to the [Dining Hall] to get a to-go meal,” said Doherty. “When I am in a rush or pulling an all-nighter, I only have time to grab chicken fingers from the Max or I have to pay [out of pocket].”

Joe Holcomb, a visual and media arts sophomore, said he has a plan that gives him more meals in the dining hall, adding that the option works well for him.

“I eat in the Dining Hall a lot, but I would never come more than twice a day,” he said.

Howes said that while new meal plan options might not be available for a while, the SGA is focusing on making progress now.

“I don’t know if we can accomplish everything we want,” Howes said. “But we can definitely get the conversation going.”

emCaitlin Collins and Alexander Kaufman contributed to this report. Moeller can be reached at heidi_moeller@emerson.edu. Follow her on Twitter   @heidimoeller/em

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