Dec

9

Admins Announce, Fail to Explain Barnard’s New Required Meal Plan

Written by

Barnard1What’s that, Barnard students? You were excited about the opening of the Vag Diana? Looking forward to all the exciting new dining options, such as “a state-of-the-art dining room and Liz’s Place, an expanded and improved-upon replacement for Java City.” Well, even if you weren’t giddy with anticipation, you’ll have to spend some money there: following Spec‘s report from yesterday, Barnard has officially announced that it will be requiring all students to participate in at least a limited meal plan.

According to an email from Dean of the College Dorothy Denburg, each year will have fewer and fewer requirements: first-years will “receive” (buy) unlimited meals and 250 dining points, while seniors will only have to chip in for 400 dining points. Sophomores living on the quad, though, will no longer have to renew the unlimited meal plan; their count will be limited to “only” 150 meals per semester. To encourage using the meal points, Barnard is “providing a five percent bonus amount to all dining points, making purchases economical as well as convenient.”

Wait, you wanted some justification, some reasoning for the change? Denburg’s email only devotes one sentence to that area, writing that “sharing food and conversation is a tried and true way of building community, and I think we are all excited about the increased opportunities that the Diana provides for us to come together.” Whether administrators are also okay with the Barnard community coming together in opposition to the new plan sadly went unaddressed. Full email after the jump.


Dear Student,

The New Year brings the much-awaited opening of The Diana Center. Along with the green roof, event oval, black box theater, classrooms and meeting rooms, this incredible building will also house a state-of-the-art dining room and Liz’s Place, an expanded and improved-upon replacement for Java City.

With the addition of these wonderful resources, and with an eye towards strengthening Barnard’s sense of community, your SGA leaders and members of Representative Council have been working with me and other administrators over the past year to improve upon the structure of the current meal plan. We believe that the revised plan will build community and animate the Diana Center, yet still accounts for differences in lifestyle of students by class and residence.

Beginning in the 2010-11 academic year, upper-class students will be required to participate in a limited meal plan, the specifics of which are laid out below. First-year students, as always, will continue to participate in the unlimited meal plan, with the addition of 100 points.

First-years: Unlimited meals + 250 points

Sophomore Quad residents: 150 meals + 300 points

Sophomore non-Quad residents: 40 meals + 800 points

Juniors: 450 points

Seniors: 400 points

All students will be able to swipe and go with their student IDs at Hewitt dining hall, the Diana Center dining room and Liz’s Place. In addition, meal credits will be accepted at John Jay dining hall at Columbia, and points may be used to purchase items at a new convenience store opening in the Quad next fall. As an added incentive, we are providing a five percent bonus amount to all dining points, making purchases economical as well as convenient.

As some of you may recall, the old McIntosh cafeteria provided a full menu with a wide variety of food options. Following in that tradition, the Diana dining room will offer hot entrees, grilled specialties, Panini sandwiches, wraps, an extended salad bar and the infamous McIntosh stone hearth thin crust pizza. Liz’s Place will improve upon Java City’s current offerings with a wider selection of grab-n-go items. Both facilities will serve Kosher, Halal, nut-free, gluten-free and vegan food.

The Diana dining room will be open through the late lunch hours. Liz’s Place will be open until midnight.

Sharing food and conversation is a tried and true way of building community, and I think we are all excited about the increased opportunities that the Diana provides for us to come together. Many thanks to those students who worked tirelessly with me and other administrators to work on this new plan, and best wishes to all for a successful end to the semester.

Dorothy Denburg

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80 Comments

  1. Anonymous  

    They're absolutely idiotic if they think that students, who've been cramming into Java City and enduring Hewitt's rubbery pasta for the past three years, aren't going to use the new student center.

    This is a plan to make money, not build a community. You're usually pretty awesome, Dean Denburg...I'm disappointed.

  2. barnard student  

    if you agree that this is unacceptable, or at least that these requirements should be significantly re-evaluated, please join our facebook group:
    http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#/group.php?v=wall&ref=mf&gid=197691773051
    obviously an online group in and of itself is going to do nothing to address the issues involved, but it is a good way for sharing ideas and organizing more concrete action.

  3. this is  

    This is bullshit and completely unfair. Yes, dean denburg, maybe you want to eat at Liz's place or whatever the fuck, but some of us would like to choose what type of food we eat/where we buy it/HOW MUCH WE PAY FOR IT. it is unfair to make students buy into a program that they had no say in, and give the bs reason that it will build "community, yada yada" yeah it will build community....a community that hates this dumb ass and selfish idea. way to think of the students, barnard.

  4. This  

    is ridiculous. If they are going to insist on taking even more money from us, the very least they can do is be honest about it and not give some us some bullshit reason about building community. Just say that it's about the money!

    Perhaps I should write to Dean Denburg and point out that many of us are not, as she says, "excited" about this "opportunity."

  5. idea  

    let's all transfer to a college that's actually worth how much we spend on it

  6. like  

    columbia, perhaps?

  7. idea  

    at least columbia gives financial aid

  8. could not  

    could not agree more with the above posts. this is yet another example of the administration not giving a damn about students interests or needs. for example, if you live in cathedral gardens, do they think that you will be spending much time at "liz's place" to socialize? no. you know why not? because it is no where near where you live. if you want to pay 2.25 for a cup of coffee, go for it dean denburg. don't make me do it.

    also, what pisses me off most (well maybe not most, but is really agravating) is the sing-song style of the email that tries to treat us like children. just tell it like it is. you want to take more of our money, plain and simple. we're not stupid.

  9. Wow. BC '10  

    Wow. Wow! This is sick. So, so glad I'm getting out of here, but holy SHIT I'm going to protest alongside my poor, beleaguered underclasslings.

  10. Anonymous  

    I'd REALLY love to know what students "worked tirelessly" with her to come up with this.

  11. Ugh  

    Way to push students into off-campus housing, Barnard. Some money-making plan, huh?

  12. The biggeset joke is

    800 points for non-quad sophomore students? HILLARIOUS.

    I have no idea how I'm going to consume $800 worth of shitty prepackaged sushi and mediocre sandwiches.

  13. Barnard Student

    So is it per semester or per year? Because holy mother of god, if they honestly think that it is physically possible to consume $800 worth of shitty Java City food, they are out of their motherfucking minds.

    Each of my suitemates and I have spent around $800 on food each FOR THE ENTIRE SEMESTER. And we eat things like fruit and vegetables, and real meat...

  14. PS

    I am totally living off campus in the future. I will be very interested to see how much the number of commuters increases next year.

  15. Let's make it even, yes?  

    Barnard better give me more more FinAid if it expects me to dish out more money for what? oh, I forgot. Food.

  16. Anonymous  

    I wish they'd realize not all of us can throw money down the drain like this. What can they do if you simply don't have the money to pay?

  17. 600 resident  

    They should at least us choose Flex instead of points (or make some Barnard-only equivalent), so we can shop at a real grocery store. And what the fuck is this "convenience store in the Quad" thing about??

  18. Huh?  

    Denberg promises the return of "the infamous McIntosh stone hearth thin crust pizza."

    What was it about this pizza that made it so infamous?

    McIntosh stone hearth thin crust pizza, did you bomb Pearl Harbor?

    • BC alum  

      Many of you haven't been on campus long enough to know this, but Mac actually had a pretty large cafe that rivaled anything else in the neighborhood. I don't agree with the way this is being forced on students, but if you actually eat food on campus you'll find ways to spend the plan. Man that thin crust pizza was good.

      Still, if you live in a suite and enjoy cooking for yourself, you totally might want to argue against this policy. I spent less than $800 for an entire year of food cooking for myself AND my partner.

      • anonymous  

        I remember eating there as a prospective student (I'm class of 2011 now) and it was good.

        The pizza she is referring to is the same exact pizza now in Hewitt, so I don't understand why they refer to it as "coming back"... It's been in Hewitt since McIntosh was demolished... And it is pretty good, you are right.

  19. Barnard Student, again

    Number of muffins 800x2 points per year would get you at Java City: 820.5

    Number of medium cups of coffee 800x2 points per year would get you at Java City: 842(ish)

    Since that's pretty much all that you can buy there that is worth consuming... damn. That's a muffin and a coffee, like, three times a day, every day, all year.

    I... eugh.

    • Anonymous  

      Well, the points will hopefully work in the cafeteria there too, so there'll hopefully be better things than just a muffin and coffee. But, even still, forcing students to spend money there is just absolutely riddiculous.

  20. ugh

    shes probably just calling it infamous so she can rack up the price. ridiculous. this combined with the NEWLY LIMITED WALK-IN HOURS at health services makes me truly appalled. Students at Barnard take pride in the respect we get from the administration... they are just trying to find new ways to rob us of our money. ridiculous.

    • I think  

      you kind of missed the point there. Infamous = bad, as in famous, but famous for doing something bad, meaning that Denburg is clearly not aware of the meaning of the word.

    • bc'10  

      Agreed about the walk-in hours (believe me), but I don't think that's really related to this issue at all. On the one hand, Health Services clearly can't meet the demand for services this year with all the flu-related issues. On the other, we have Aramark, who probably can't afford to run dining services anymore with things the way they are. Perhaps both issues are related to money concerns, but they're two completely different departments.

  21. and

    I also particularly enjoy the portion about: "As some of you may recall, the old McIntosh cafeteria provided a full menu
    with a wide variety of food options". The only students left here who recall a time when a solid portion of campus wasn't under construction are the seniors...who wont be here next semester anyway

  22. I have to admit  

    That I am surprised. This sounds like something Columbia would do to its students.

  23. Barnard '10

    I am so glad that I'm graduating. Barnard administrators are grifters. They just want money -- I hope the school ceases to exist soon. I will never donate a dime to this institution - I am totally against everything I have observed in terms of the treatment of students in this place. What a shame that Barnard incites such hatred amongst its students. Shameful. The pressure of the economy has really brought out the worst...they are really trying so hard to stay afloat by stealing from students and their families....all Barnard students should be insulted.

  24. Anon

    Maybe Barnard is reacting to the downturn in endowment.

    If they are, then they ought to say it.

  25. notice that  

    this is for ALL STUDENTS. off campus or not.

  26. Barnard '10

    I totally agree. The tone of the e-mail outraged and insulted me.

  27. The hubris! The greed! I solemnly do swear that I will never, ever give Barnard a cent of my money after graduation.

  28. fads

    Another reason Barnard is no. 30 in the rankings, whereas Columbia is always in the top 10

  29. Early

    ED acceptance letters are sent out tomorrow.

  30. bc senior  

    woah, i understand there's a rush to blame barnard for their admittedly poor communication. but a few things-- first of all, this plan may be better for students on financial, aid since board is covered as part of many financial aid packages. second of all, i know none of you underclass women experienced mac, but it's absolutely ridiculous to assume that you would be spending the money on muffins, coffee, and sushi. youll be spending it on real food, similar to what you would get in ferris booth. as for students living far away in CG, 110, etc.-- would you really be going home for lunch everyday anyways? doubtful. when you live in those dorms, you eat around campus. many peer institutions have required meal plans for all four years, so this isn't the craziest idea in the world.

    you all seem very concerned because students werent consulted, but this just isn't true. YOU werent consulted. administrators and dean denburg have been working with various students for a full year on this plan. if you dont like what the students decided, then that's a problem with the leadership. maybe you should vote in sga elections. (i believe only a third of bc students voted last year.) or you could actually run in sga elections.

    and yes, youre right-- this is financially motivated. our endowment sucks because alums give no money. so fine, dont give any money to barnard, but youre basically ensuring that continued classes will suffer the consequences of a cash-strapped school.

    • Fin. Aid?  

      What Financial Aid? Despite receiving a federal Pell grant this year (about 1200$), I know I didn't see any of that money. So now in addition to having to pay for my education, I'll have to pay for food I don't want to eat. Because no one told me this was even on the table before today.

      Yayyyyy Barnard!

    • also bc'10  

      Finally, a voice of reason among all the insanity! And before any one starts labeling me, no, I am not a member of SGA, and I also did not know about this before today. We're all understandably upset and offended by the lack of communication. The administration should have shown us more respect and explained the reasoning behind this decision. At the moment, I can only hypothesize that this was a compromise to keep Barnard's dining services afloat. They have required all students in the quad to have a meal plan in the past because that was the only way to keep them out of the red, but it's obviously no longer enough. Although I don't know this for sure, I would assume that the only people who will profit from this is Aramark-- although instead of "profit," it might be more accurate to say "be able to stay open."

      It's understandable for underclassmen to be upset since they never experienced the cafeteria at Mac. But as far as I remember, the food was always really great, and there were plenty of choices. Hopefully after we all get a chance to eat at the new establishments next semester, this will all be a little easier to swallow (no pun intended).

      As far as financial aid goes, I would have never made it this far without them. Barnard's generous grants and alumnae scholarships have brought the price of such an excellent education down to my price range, and for that I am truly grateful.

      Let's all take some time to calm down and process the information. There's no need to make broad generalizations about the entire college based on one decision. The administration will have to respond to the outcry, and hopefully we will have more answers soon. Our anger may be justified, but let's handle ourselves like the strong, intelligent women we are. The comments on this thread are not going to convince anyone to treat us like adults, so let's take the time to think before we speak.

      • Unecessary  

        regardless of the options available...I personally am on financial aid and this meal plan change is NOT big enough to help my financial aid really. 450 is a lot of money for someone who doesnt have it but it is not enough of a change for the financial aid office to give me the money for it.
        also, i happen to go home once a month and always bring back frozen home cooked meals from my mother whose food is far superior than anything in the dining halls or java so I rarely, if ever, even go out to eat. I hate the dining halls because they try to offer different varieties of things but the quality is never good. When it comes to java or the MAC...well...in the amount I would spend in java 1 week for a bagel and coffee and MAYBE an occasional sandwich for lunch, I could buy a month's worth with my own supplies from a grocery store or like 3 weeks worth at a breakfast cart or pinnacle!

  31. i'm a bc senior too  

    excuse me. i'm a bc senior too. i was here for mac, and are wrong. there was the same shit food thats available at java, except maybe two or three more options. wow.

    second, you may have been consulted for this retarded initiative, but many of us who are involved in schoolwide activites were not. not only were we not involved we knew absolutely nothing about it. there was no recruiting for students to serve on the board that made this decision.

    third, it is financially motivated as you say. And the best way to take a stand is to say no, i am not putting up with this. power of the purse. don't give money to an institution that makes decisions that you do not stand for. and don't be guilted into giving money for something you don't believe in. no matter what this poster says. people are not happy with how this was handled, and they deserve to have their voices heard.

    you obviously work for sga. no one is happy about this, therefore something is wrong with IT not US.

    • um  

      I'm also a senior, so I have to wonder why you think that Mac only had "two or three more options" than Java City. Java City hasn't changed much since our first year, so if you're referring simply to them, it's understandable. But I remember very clearly that Mac had a wide variety of food, and students and faculty both stood in line just to get some of it! (I'm talking about the pizza, of course.) Mac pizza, chicken fingers, mozzarella sticks, fries, grapes & cheese, salads, sandwiches, soups... the list goes on and on. Those are the few things I remember them having since it's all I usually got, but I'm pretty sure there were even more choices for students. I know we're all angry and insulted, but no need to change the facts.

      • Anna Scaife, BC '11  

        There may be a wider variety of options available at the Diana, but that doesn't negate the objections of students who do not wish to eat there. Local or organic options are not commonly offered by Aramark. Also, in the list of options you recalled from Mac, you mentioned only two items featuring fruits or vegetables--the biggest problem I had first year was finding healthful (i.e. not covered in oil, or cooked to the point where their nutritional value has been greatly diminished).

        That said, those who are accusing the administration of graft ought to direct their attention more towards Aramark, whose inability to make sufficient profits without instituting such policies bespeak a poor business model.

        If the policy is intended to foster community, then Barnard ought to consider switching providers to a more consumer-oriented plan, like the one currently in use at Wesleyan University.

        • also senior  

          Thanks for your thoughtful reply! I agree with everything you wrote. The only thing I do want to point out is that I wasn't too concerned in eating healthy food my first year, which is why my recollection tends more towards the greasy, fried foods. I do believe there was a good variety of fruits, hummus, and yogurts as well, though it was probably lacking on the vegetable front. We'll have to see what the food is like next semester.

        • Barnard '10

          wow! You don't get the whole point of graft, do you? Barnard doesn't have to continue to employ Aramark. But they do. Aramark doesn't make decisions on whether or not it gets a contract - it's employer does. That employer is Barnard. It's actually Barnard's poor business practices...of course I doubt there is literally "graft" here but the point of the posters was that the administrators are forcing us to pay money to keep an inefficient provider in business, which is not in the best interest of the students to do. But Barnard can use the disproportionate power relationship between itself and you to steal your money. Can you really speak with the power of the purse if you are a current junior? Are you really going to transfer to avoid that cost? Because the costs of transferring probably outweigh it. No, once you're here, Barnard can take full advantage of you. I

          • ...  

            I think you may be a little quick to accuse here... How familiar are you with Aramark's finance situation? Saying they are "inefficient" and implying that Barnard is getting kick-backs is a lot of accusations with nothing to back it up in your post. Union contracts probably have a lot to do with this, as a later poster has pointed out. Also, we have to keep in mind that we're in New York City, so cost of running a business is significantly higher then elsewhere. I don't know why this whole process seems to shout "corruption!" to so many people, especially when SGA was apparently involved in negotiations. Let's investigate further before we make such claims.

          • Well...  

            We're all assuming it is inefficient because there are five stores in the neighborhood that serve better food at lower prices.
            Employing union employees may have something to do with it, but I'm not so sure. Many of the employees of companies the university contracts out to (security guards, for instance) are not unionized. I've talked with the guy who owns the asian smoothy shop in Lerner, and he and his buddy aren't unionized.

            If they opened up the spaces to whoever was willing to pay rent we would end up with better, cheaper food. Invisible hand, invisible hand.

    • Anonymous  

      I don't think that people here are angry about having a new student center to eat in. What we're pissed about is the fact that we're going to have no choice BUT to eat in that student center.

      And I'm sorry that you think that we're overreacting, but you're a senior. You won't be seeing $1,000+ added to your tuition bill because of this.

      • actually  

        I think the point was more that throwing temper tantrums won't convince the administration to treat you like adults.

        Also, assuming prices will remain similar to those in the past, almost all of these plans will be well under $1,000. Only sophomore quad residents and first years will be required to pay that much, which isn't a change.

  32. hmmmm  

    maybe theres a reason alumns give no money.....because of decisions like this. way to care about the students, dean denburg. you're a piece of shit

    • Anonymous  

      Alums don't give money because Barnard hasn't been that great about fostering a sense of community. Emotional ties=big money donations. Barnard was also largely a commuter school up until the seventies and eighties, and commuters in general don't feel as connected to the school as people who live there full time, so we're missing out on a lot of the wealthy old alumnae from the fifties and sixties.

      But, as far as fostering community goes, forcing students to eat in the student center isn't the way to go about doing it...

  33. BC student  

    When I applied to Barnard, the administration boasted that because of its small, intimate setting, students really had a say in the goings-on of the college, and that unlike large state institutions, Barnard voices were heard and acted upon. Yet there was no mention of this to the student body, and no chance for us to voice our (very obvious) distaste for this new policy.

    If Barnard's administration is going to go about implementing a new authoritative policy, at least have some decency and respect for your student body and tell them the REAL motivations behind it. Because believe it or not, we are capable of calling your bluff, and this is all complete and utter BULLSHIT.

  34. Anonymous  

    So unless the Diana is going to feature a gourmet vegan establishment, this plan is total and complete bullshit. I personally want to go off the meal plan next year because the vegan options in Hewitt and Java are absolutely horrendous, and I personally have no desire to pay inflated prices for bad food when I can easily cook for myself. I'm 18, not 5, I'm capable of deciding what and where to eat, and how much to spend on it. In fact, I probably eat healthier when left to my own devices. Until this school starts giving me some financial aid (as in, I have a single mother who is a teacher and I currently get nothing), they have absolutely no right to force me into a nutritionally limiting, low quality food plan. So, to any Barnard officials who may or may not read this: Expect some angry phone calls. Be ready for it.

  35. Senior  

    This fucking sucks. I was around for Mac and loved it but there is no way in hell that you can justify making every student on campus be on a meal plan. Financial aid students aside, there are tonss of students here who aren't on aid but still struggle with money. Having spent two years on a meal plan and two years off I can tell you that I save hundreds of dollars each semester buying my own groceries and cooking for myself. That's not small change people. This is clearly a money making scheme and I am just so glad that I will be gone before this takes effect.

  36. Disappointed  

    Community is important. There are other ways to build community without charging students a fine.

  37. fads

    no one gives money to barnard, because no one from barnard gets a good job, they all become feminist hobos

  38. columbian  

    I've never seen such Barnard hate coming from Barnard students. Bot saying I don't understand, of course, since if I were forced to eat in john jay ever again I may have to kill someone. I'm with you girls, this new policy sucks.

  39. BC '10  

    Regardless of whether or not Mac food was good (and it was...good as in better than the dining hall, still not very good for you). My issue with the matter is choice. If the food is noticeably superior, than a required meal plan seems superfluous. As someone mentioned above, we are not 5. I personally cook most of my own food and am a very cost conscious grocery shopper...everyone can agree that on-campus food is generally overpriced. It seems as though a better idea would be to see how much money this new dining area rakes in, before tacking a bill onto each and every student. After consciously paying for dining points/meals, I would feel guilty not using them, yet, I clearly do not wish to eat the food on campus, otherwise I would frequent 212 more often. So really, Barnard, own up and just tack it onto out tuition bills if the amount people spend in the Diana doesn't amount to what you want.

  40. enough coarser  

    Damn. Barnard girls have potty mouths.

  41. cc '12  

    damn, i feel awful for the barnard girls. i really hope columbia doesn't decide this plan is brilliant (knock on wood).

  42. cc '10  

    Yikes! Ladies, I'm sorry you're getting stuck with this! It seems absurd. Hope you can get it changed!

    • bc 11  

      i don't think they would, because columbia is way too big to have every undergrad eating at john jay and the places in lerner (not that everyone with a meal plan will use it, but probably more would if they were forced to pay for it). i think they think it's going to work at barnard because we're smaller, but considering how horribly crowded hewitt and java city are during peak hours, it's going to be a disaster next year.

  43. Labor Love  

    Didn't this have to do with union re-negotiations with Aramark?

  44. question  

    does anyone know if the points/plan that's listed in the email is per semester or for the entire year?

    • answer  

      Per semester, so seniors have to pay 800, juniors 900, etc

      • thanks.  

        aside from it being required, which is of course problematic, i think this is actually somewhat of an improvement. i always felt that the dining plan options were horribly limited. i'd personally be willing to get this plan if it wasn't required (i usually get the 50 lunch/points plan anyway). i hoping that some type of compromise can reached on this.

        • BCSophomore

          I don't really think that the new plan adds any variety to our choice of meal plan. There might be a greater variety of food on which to spend points, but from what I understand students will only have ONE choice of meal plan, as determined by your class year (and if you're a Sophomore, by residence). If anything, this is MORE limiting than the 4 options we're currently given.

          Also-- is the lifestyle difference between a Sophomore and a junior (who say, both live in CG) really enough to warrant such a drastic difference in the required meal plans? A difference of 40 meals and nearly 2x the points? Seriously, who thought up this plan, because I have trouble believing any of my fellow students would authorize that decision...

          • bc '11  

            Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe the plans listed are a "minimum amount" for each class year. So first years only get one choice (same as now), but sophomores get two (the one determined by their residence or the unlimited). Juniors can choose from all the plans above their class year and seniors can choose from all the plans. More limiting in some ways, but less limiting in others. Personally, I think the current meal plan options are terrible - I really don't need or want meals at Hewitt. These choices are much better, but I resent being forced to have one of them.

            Yeah, I agree about the sophomore/junior thing. Do they think sophomores are too immature to cook and then, magically over the summer, they blossom into healthy, accomplished chefs? They can justify forcing the sophomores to pay more, so they're going to do it.

  45. transfer

    I was BC'10 before I transferred down to Texas, and I have to say this sucks for all my old friends still going there (though I do catch myself craving that thin crust pizza-- the bbq chicken was sooo good!) I definitely emphasize with y'all!

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