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Shared Meal Plans

Given the relatively recent introduction of shared meal plans (first offered in the fall of 2007), we would like to describe briefly how they work. The plans were developed in response to student interest in having an opportunity both to live in a four-year college and belong to a club, and as part of an effort to reduce the degree of separation between students in the colleges and students in the clubs. (Another initiative designed to achieve this goal is the provision of two meals per week in the colleges for all juniors and seniors at no extra cost; the overwhelming majority of meals have been lunches and dinners — not breakfasts as originally anticipated.)

Students with shared meal plans pay the full cost of membership in their clubs, and the clubs reimburse the University according to an arrangement arrived at by each club with the University. (The reimbursement is currently $616 per student for each club.) A student on a shared meal plan is entitled to 95 meals each semester at any of the colleges, plus the two free meals per week that every junior and senior receives, along with unlimited meals at the student’s club.

Currently all 10 clubs are participating in the shared meal program. The numbers of shared meal plans available to rising juniors and seniors are determined by each club and vary club by club and year by year. During the residential college room draw, club members who are interested in shared meal plans can select one of their club’s plans as long as the maximum number of plans set by their club has not been reached. After a club’s maximum has been reached, members of that club who have not yet drawn rooms do not have the option of a shared plan. They can remove themselves from the college draw and enter regular room draw, or they can remain in the college draw, but then they must purchase at least the minimum college meal plan (95 meals per semester). At this point they may drop their club membership, or they can choose to purchase a club meal plan in addition to their college plan.

Questions have been raised about whether there are students who enter the residential college room draw and select shared meal plans not because they really want to participate in the shared meal program, but because they are seeking to obtain the best possible room. College room draw and regular room draw are based on separate lists, so students can enter both draws and then choose the one that offers them the better ranking, knowing that if they choose the college draw and obtain a shared meal plan they can maintain their club membership at no additional cost. Since each club offers a finite number of shared plans, if some plans are claimed by students who don’t truly want them, this can prevent students who truly want them from obtaining them. The sign-in clubs, in particular, are concerned that a result may be that a student who lost out on a shared plan will elect to live in the college and withdraw from the club. We believe it would be helpful for the University to collect data on the reasons why students elect shared meal plans, and on the degree to which there is unmet demand for them.