BC Administration Still Thinks New Dining Plan Is A Good Idea

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SN004836In response to our queries and our recent two posts, the Barnard administration has sent Bwog an expedient justification of the new meal plan. Here’s the comment we received:

Since the demolition of McIntosh, the College has struggled with the reality and perception of community on our campus.  At the same time, we have received an increased amount of feedback from upperclass students who live in the Quad (specifically Junior and Senior students) that the required unlimited meal plan is not at all conducive with their on and off campus commitments.  With those scenarios in mind, the goal of the campus-wide mandatory meal plan program is to strengthen the campus community.

We hope to accomplish that by:

  1. Providing more avenues for students to engage in communal dining with the opening of the Diana Center.
  2. Ensuring the vibrancy of the Diana Center through a constant flow of traffic and interaction.
  3. Providing additional flexibility to students as their class, internship and work schedule changes with their class year.
  4. Providing convenient ways for students to use their meal plan points on campus – e.g. meal plan points can be used in Hewitt, the Diana Center, convenience store (online for FA 2010), Liz’s Place (soon to be formerly known as Java City), etc.
  5. Paying attention to the ongoing transitional status of sophomores, and continue to include some level of meals for them to support the contrast of the social networking that takes place during the first-year and ways to keep them connected as sophomores

…By the way – I saw on the Bwog that there was some confusion with regard to whether the cost per meal plan was per semester or for the academic year, and the cost described in Dean Denburg’s email is per semester.


Annie Aversa
Associate Dean of Campus and Residential Life
Barnard College


  1. it all comes down to...  


    I mean, if you open 3 new dining options, you need to make sure people are going to use it. It's as simple as that, no?

  2. Please  

    If this is really about campus life, Barnard administrators, clearly your campus is uninterested.

    If this is, as many have suggested, about money, then just be honest about it. Trying to spin this insults the intelligence of your students.

  3. at least  

    make the points work at columbia food locations like the butler cafe and 212. i never use all my points and i end up spending more money because i spend all my time at the library and my points dont work there...

    • This.  

      This is the only way I can imagine the mandatory plan being marginally fair. Don't confine your students to just the one side of the street, Barnard, that is NOT convenient for them.

    • Anonymous  

      I agree. Dining Dollars are open to both sides of the street, yet Columbia meal plans actually incorporate them, while Barnard is unwilling to let go of its points. If we want to actually be able to buy something while we're stuck in Butler, it has to be on top of this riddiculous meal plan.

  4. So they're doubling down  

    Forced community interaction by holding your wallet hostage. Nice.
    This is not a college in the middle of podunk. You're going to have a scattered and not-as-cohesive community. But if you want to build a community, Barnard, be honest, pay attention to your students, and don't alienate them through this asinine plan and public-relations spin.

  5. If this were Columbia

    The response would have been: "Fuck off."

    Just saying.

  6. well  

    I might as well go toss $800 out the window right now.

  7. ridiculous

    people have different class timings. grabbing something at LIZ'S PLACE and running to my next class will not build community. Barnard, who are you trying to fool?

  8. dear barnard  

    you can take your community and shove it up your ass. i don't want any of it. i just want my money. i already pay full tuition and believe it or not, money doesn't grow on trees.

    here's an idea: maybe if you create food resources that people actually want to eat at, they'll eat at them and you won't have to hold our money hostage. stop shoving subpar establishments down our throat and preventing us from exploring the culinary options available in new york city. part of the reason i came to barnard was the many opportunities of new york city (including the food) and when you create a ball and chain like this required point system it's a dick move.

    you don't want community. you want our money. take it now, but be warned: i have no intention whatsoever of donating to this establishment once i graduate.

  9. actually

    I have no problem with this policy. If the barnard meal plan had options beyond hewitt and java city, I'd have signed up for one this year, and it would have been a relief. The grocery stores around here are so expensive that you don't save as much money as you'd think by cooking for yourself, and it becomes really difficult to eat properly on your own with a college schedule.

    Plus, they're right, barnard doesn't have a community - in fact, the closest thing that barnard has to a culture is probably disordered eating. It's absurd how thin and isolated most women on this campus are, and I think communal meals are a reasonable response from the administration.

    That all said, the food at the diana had better be an improvement.

    • Anonymous

      Let's not bring eating disorders into this conversation. Good for you if you're in favor of the proposed meal plan, but please don't confuse your own feelings with the welfare of the community by suggesting that it's good we'll all be eating a little more. Barnard women are as healthy as any other batch of women, so the suggestion that we all have eating disorders is really just insulting and insensitive.

      • actually

        Look. I'm not saying that "we all have eating disorders" or that "it's good we'll all be eating a little more." Just that here, like on many college campuses, disordered eating is disturbingly common. It's insulting not to acknowledge that, and to say that it can't even be part of a conversation about how Barnard students will eat next year. If the administration ever wanted to address the issue, then having the student body actually eat together might make it easier to promote a healthier food culture -- not to make select students eat more, but to create an environment where unhealthy ideas about eating aren't the norm.

        • Yes

          Yes let's force people with eating disorders to eat at the student center, where their options basically include two poles: lettuce and fruit cups or chicken fingers and pizza. If Aramark would provide food that was appetizing as well as healthy, they would not need to resort to extortion to stay afloat. That is all.

  10. Twelve-Year-Old  

    "Ensuring the vibrancy of the Diana Center through a constant FLOW..."


  11. I can think of  

    some great ways to build community: Give Columbia/Barnard students swipe access to each other's dorms. Let people have social gatherings (or "parties") with more than 5 people. Don't force us on a meal plan so that we'll have an incentive to cook together, go out together, become self-reliant and responsible adults. How bout it? Because frankly, the conversations I have in loud and overcrowded dining halls with the TV blaring don't tend to build much community. Plus, unless this gets covered by financial aid, I really can't afford 800 points of coffee.

  12. Ah Barnard  

    I used to think Barnard was nicer than Columbia. But they both fuck you up the ass, only Barnard uses lube and says it builds community.

  13. meals  

    Seriously, to be honest, I wouldn't care if they required us to be on a meal plan, but have a choice of what we wanted, like if we wanted meals v points, and how many meals or points. But forcing us to have to have 800 worthless points seems really unfair to me.

  14. Anonymous  

    anyone with any basic life skills could stretch that 800 dollars much farther than what you get with those shitty points. thanks barnard, i'm going to have to increase my loan to pay for this.

  15. this is absurd

    reason number 234152 why i am not giving a cent to barnard after i graduate. for once, LISTEN TO STUDENTS' CONCERNS AND ACTUALLY GIVE A SHIT.

  16. although...  

    if they really wanted to just make more money off of us, wouldn't they just tack it on to our tuition? at least we get SOMEthing out of it? (Trying to make roses out of shit, I know...)

  17. Anonymous  

    This doesn't actually answer anything.

    Yes, it's great that you've finally realized that requiring unlimited meal plans for all Quad residents, regardless of class year, completely screws over upperclassmen and makes Hewitt the "last resort" dorm, despite the fact that it's all singles. Bravo. It only took you two years to listen to us. Now that that's settled, don't try to use that to cover up what you're doing to the rest of us--we're smart, that's why you admitted us, and we know what you're doing, so at least have the respect to talk to us honestly.

    Barnard's lack of community is not going to be resolved by forcing all of its students into a meal plan. When you build a school in New York City, there are going to be interests outside of the campus--that's a GOOD thing and one of the reasons why most of us came here. This new system is only going to encourage unhealthy eating habits--giving sophomores $800 a semester to spend on coffee and flat bread pizza DOES NOT promote healthy living (listen to your own Well Woman posters, please). And people WILL use the Diana, if nothing else but because there is actually no other place to go and sit down for awhile on our tiny campus.

    And, please, social networking? In Hewitt?! One of the best things about being a sophomore is finally getting off of that damn unlimited meal plan (if you're not a Quad resident)and being allowed to cook for yourself and your friends in your suite. If you wanted to keep up the "networking," you should make it easier for student groups--the real community builders at this school--to use the new space in the Diana.

  18. and its called the vag, not the diana

    Word. Did the administrators and trustees of this school forget that there are people who go to this school who actually are not from the Upper East Side? Times are not prosperous, Barnard. Stop being a TOOL!

  19. this poor decision

    making on the part of the management is exemplary of a top 30 management team...
    plus you guys have to realize college is an investment so stop complaining. Drop out or go somewhere else if you don't wanna pay 300 more bucks...if you don't think barnard's worth it dont come back

  20. BC '10  

    I make a conscious effort to shop at Fairway and Costco for my food, make meals for the week in advance, etc. I probably spend about $400 TOTAL on my groceries during the course of an entire semester. Now as a Senior I will be expected to pay $400 a semester just to eat at the Diana? I know that many student are well off on our campus...but they should still have the choice to eat where they want. And for those of us who aren't...this will just add to our worries. Also, Barnard, I thought you were trying to build strong beautiful Barnard women? This meal plan will give students less incentive to learn how to cook for themselves or be fiscally responsible.

  21. Anonymous  

    The idea proposed earlier about allowing swipe access to all dorms is a better way to build community. But yeah They should just admit that they're doing it for the money, which is understandable, but it's not cool how they're trying to sugar coat it. Come clean!

  22. Anonymous  

    BS, there is no way anyone can live off of $400 buying food at Costco and Fairway. You must be eating completely frozen and processed food. $400 is nothing compared to the amount we pay in tuition. Now let's talk about that!!!

  23. hewitt made me bloated and fat  

    barnard, at least compromise. if you're truly interested in community building, give us swipe access to all dorms, and make the point system compatible with flex (incentive to stay in morningside heights). does anyone know if this will be covered by financial aid?

  24. ok so we're all complaining about this $400 extra we're going to have to be paying a semester. Really though. Is it that much of a difference considering we're paying $53,000 a year to come here anyway? and we all pay it w/no complaint? It's not like Barnard is asking us to pay them $400 and we dont get anything in return. im sure some of you dont have time to cook b4 class so running into the Diana and getting something is beneficial to almost all of us. I dont see why this is causing such an uproar. Compared to some other schools that require their students to pay unlimited meal plans all four years, Barnard is actually doing us a favor. Dont complain until its been implemented for at least a year and then see the problems with it.

    • anonymous  

      the problem is that, for many of us, it is $400 that we truly are wasting. as a student with food allergies, there is hardly any food that i can eat on campus and what there is is typically disgusting. forcing me to spend money on food that I legitimately CAN'T eat is nothing more or less than blatantly unjust. I was forced to live with this freshman year, despite many efforts to get an exemption, and with the amount of money it costs to buy allergen-free food, making me throw another $400 down the drain is appalling

    • Blah

      We don't pay 53,000 a year...if you do have to pay the full tuition you pay 38,000 if you're a commuter, 47,000 if you dorm (in a single), and 53 if you have the MEAL PLAN...

  25. agreed

    it needs to at least be either dining dollars or better yet FLEX...i could def spend $400 at milano....

  26. BC2012

    Wait, you mean a junior will have to waste $400 per SEMESTER? That's ridiculous.

    What about commuters? Don't tell me you expect COMMUTING STUDENTS to pass up healthy home-cooked meals in favor of gluttonous eating at a dining hall. Even if they wanted to ruin their health doing that, they're simply not on-campus enough to make spending such a huge amount of money feasible.

  27. Another BC2010  

    I have mixed feelings about the new policy. At first I was outraged: when I went off the meal plan after freshman year I lost 15 pounds that I didn't even know I had gained. I love cooking and eating out and hate spending more on food that is pretty low-qual and overpriced in both Hewitt and Java City (and Mac, back when that existed freshman year).

    But I really do agree with what administrators are saying about dining halls and eating places building community. I LOVED living on a floor freshman year with all of my friends, and because now my friends live all over the place, I don't run into them very often...and the only place I really do is in Java city on the way to class because it's central and people hang out there. On the rare occasion that I sneak into Hewitt, I always run into people I know and wouldn't otherwise see, which brings me back to freshman year when Hewitt was a really central social space where you would run into friends and spend time with them over a meal (more than just 30 seconds in passing on the street). When I lived in Plimpton and stopped going to Butler, I felt like I grew distant with some of people that I just used to see on Broadway and in other central locations. Call me crazy, but I think this kind of random running into people social capital is really valuable. While I'm all for universal swipe access, that policy is building community in new ways (behind closed doors in suites that your friends invite you to) rather than interacting with people that you know but may not invite over to your apartment.

    I totally agree with the money part that most people have been saying, and have generally been frustrated as Barnard has been upping costs for things here and there (like winter break housing and excessively high summer housing costs). But as a soon to be outgoing senior, I do feel sad about the lack of community on this campus as everyone is off doing there own things in the neighborhood and throughout the city. The opening of the Diana will help, because not having a student center for the past 3 years has hurt barnard (and sent people to columbia's campus). I think the REAL problem is that people don't like Barnard food and think it's overpriced. But my friends at other schools (namely Bates and Cornell) LOVE the food on their campuses. Aramark is the real problem, and Barnard should find a way to get better dining services at a lower cost.

    • This is  

      a very well thought out post. My main objection is that you can't FORCE people to build community. That's like trying to make people have fun or trying to make people like something they just don't like. You can't do it, and I think the outrage over this whole thing shows that a required meal plan is actually doing the opposite of building community -- it's making people resent the school. If the Vag-I-mean-the-Diana manages to overcome its absolutely ridiculous name and hideous exterior and becomes the "vibrant" place Annie Aversa is so convinced it will be, then there should be no need to make students to go there. The idea of forced community, on top of the obnoxious way in which Barnard keeps trying to act like they are doing all of this for our benefit (seriously, Annie, shove it up your ass) is what bothers me most about this whole thing. I totally understand what you said about seeing people in Hewitt, but for me, it wasn't like that. I know that if I have to have this new meal plan, I won't sit around and eat with people I haven't talked to in several years, but I also know that there are people who will. I think that if Barnard weren't being such a bitch about this and just started by introducing new, OPTIONAL meal plans, maybe more people would have signed up. Instead, they're completely ripping off (as well as angering and alienating) the students. And I know that people have been saying $400 a semester isn't that much, and maybe it's not for some, but the fact is that $400 in Barnard meals is going to be way less food than $400 worth of food that you buy yourself (at places like Fairway). If I remember correctly, brunch at Hewitt costs somewhere between 11-13 dollars, and for that price you could actually go to a real restaurant and get real food that wasn't frozen first and doesn't involve eggs from a carton (not to mention cook something for yourself for way less. An entire box of Bisquick is like $4). I just really hope Barnard decides to reconsider this policy, based on the overwhelming opposition among the students. They could at least wait a year and see how the Vagiana does on its own before they start shoving it down our throats.

  28. I have to say  

    I agree with everything you just said. I'm very torn between feeling generally outraged no one informed the student body that this was a possibility before it became a reality, but at the same time, I feel like it actually MIGHT help with the community issue.

    Like you, I have a friend who goes to a school with a required meal plan. When everyone in a school have to sit down together x time, it really changes the atmosphere. If there's one thing I'd want at Barnard, it is that atmosphere. Barnard is a cold, unfriendly place without it. That being said, I have no idea if the women of Barnard will be inclined to participate or if a community feeling will actually resonate in the halls of the Dianna. I hope so, though.

    We'll see how much extra the tack on to our tuition and housing this year, and then I'll know if I'm happy or not.

  29. Everyone!  

    Everyone write SGA Prez Katie Palilo and encourage her to stand up to the Barnard administration [email protected]

    • you really  

      think that she alone will be able to make a difference? I'd say email the administration themselves!

    • Here's some people:  

      Ann Aversa
      Associate Dean of Campus and Residential Life
      (212) 854 - 5561
      [email protected]

      Dorothy Denburg
      The Dean
      (212) 854 - 3075
      [email protected]

      Debora Spar
      La Presidente
      (212) 854 - 2021
      [email protected]

      David Hollander
      Dining Services
      (212) 854 - 6663
      [email protected]

    • Go email denburg  

      [email protected]
      (212) 854-3075

  30. Embry Owen

    Right, people should definitely email the administration directly. If you are interested in getting involved next semester in an effort to reduce or eliminate the requirements for upperlassmen, please email [email protected] To stay appraised of updates, please join the facebook group here: Thanks!

  31. Oh Barnard  

    Screw us rising seniors over by knocking our student center down when we enter as freshman.
    But that's not enough, force us to pay more for shitty food than we can afford so you can pay for this mistake.
    Good going Barnard.

  32. umm ok? that's EVERYONE who lives in Hewitt. thats 8 floors of ppl paying 53 grand a year

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