Student governments had limited input in Tiger Plan
MSA and RHA presidents each met once with CDS after the plan was already constructed.
Sep. 20, 2016
The presidents of the Residence Halls Association and the Missouri Students Association both said they raised concerns with Campus Dining Services about the cost structure of The Tiger Plan, but they said their feedback was not taken into consideration.
CDS introduced the off-campus dining plan for the fall semester. The plan advertises “up to 63 percent off all CDS locations” on the department’s website, but when the base cost is taken into consideration, students can at most save 15 percent if they only eat at all-you-care-to-eat facilities.
Students would experience a net loss compared to the cash price at all other locations. Students would also save more money by buying a traditional block plan than they would using The Tiger Plan only at all-you-care-to-eat locations.
CDS marketing manager Michael Wuest said the dining plan was based off of a similar program at Virginia Tech, and after The Tiger Plan was created the organization consulted students to get feedback.
“Once we figured out how we could use that similar model, we presented and got feedback from a variety of students and organizations, including RHA and MSA leadership teams,” he said. “Given the positive student feedback, we decided to offer The Tiger Plan as a pilot program this year for students who live off campus.”
Wuest did not respond to requests for clarification of what RHA and MSA leaders suggested in those meetings.
CDS Director Julaine Kiehn said she consulted MSA President Sean Earl and RHA President Matt Bourke before the plan was released, but both presidents said their input was not taken into consideration.
Bourke said when he and Earl were introduced to The Tiger Plan, they saw the marketing materials that are now displayed in dining halls around campus. They both said they brought up that few flex dollars were being provided for the amount that students were paying.
“That is when Matt and I were commenting about the flex dollars and how it’s not enough,” Earl said. “Students are automatically going to see $800, and they are getting $350.”
Though both organizations’ presidents gave this feedback, the cost breakdown remained the same. Earl said he understood that a base cost was needed to cover facility and labor expenses, but students were not receiving enough for the amount they were paying.
“I always thought that the base cost could be reduced and the flex dollars could be increased,” he said. “So that was my input, but my input only goes so far because The Tiger Plan was already happening.”
Other members of MSA were not consulted at all. Senate Director of Activities Saad Malik first found out about The Tiger Plan when he was in a dining hall at the beginning of the semester. He said that while some members of MSA may have known about the plan, they were not consulted about it before it was going into effect.
“It’s not like we signed off on it or anything,” Malik said. “I am not sure how many details were given.”
Earl said he only had one meeting with CDS about The Tiger Plan, and by that time in the summer, the plan was already created.
“I think the flaw in the perception has been that CDS was working with us month after month since the inception of the Tiger Plan, but I personally didn’t find out about the Tiger Plan until during the summer when it was already in place,” Earl said. “Once I found out about it, it was already happening.”
Earl and Bourke hold monthly meetings with CDS to talk about issues that concern on-campus dining.
“We provide our input, perspective and feedback, but not necessarily have the authority to say, ‘Oh, you need to change this,’ and then they change it,” Earl said.
Bourke said CDS generally brings changes they have made to them and ask for student feedback on them.
“[CDS] are the ones who create the agenda and then we bring up our concerns we have from that point,” he said. “They also consult with our Residential Living committee.”
RHA congressional speaker Emily Aiken said that CDS meets with the RHA Residential Living committee every month to discuss student concerns with dining on campus.
“CDS takes RHA's input very seriously,” she said in an email. “RHA is who can directly tell CDS what residents really think about the food and the experience. They value RHA's opinion very highly.”
Though student involvement in creating The Tiger Plan was limited, student governments have worked with CDS on other projects within the past year.
Earl said that last year, some MSA representatives pressed CDS on being more transparent about ingredients in dining hall food to ensure safety for students with allergies, as well as provide information for students who don’t eat meat or animal products.
MSA also consulted with CDS to start Food Truck Fridays. Though MSA is in charge of organizing local businesses to vend on campus, they had to get permission since CDS is in charge of all food served at the university.
Edited by Emily Gallion | firstname.lastname@example.org