Meal Plan Update

 Last spring semester, Dean Brad Voyles concluded that he would reconsider the mandatory meal plan for the 2016-2017 academic year.  However, for those students who are most alarmed, they can rest easy knowing they will not have to plunge even deeper into their bank accounts for the next school year. The mandatory meal plan is still postponed until after the 2016 Great Hall renovations have been completed.

According to Dean Voyles, the mandatory meal plan will be reconsidered after the Carter construction is finished, and Tom Schreiner, Director of Auxilary Services, is confident the changes will be readdressed after the Great Hall renovations are completed this summer.

On March 31 of the last spring semester, Dean Voyles sent an e-mail titled “Mandatory Meal Plans” applying to the 2015-2016 academic year. The e-mail immediately received much attention and caused an uproar considering the significant effect it posed on students, particularly those who were planning to live off-campus.

In his e-mail last spring, Dean Voyles announced all full-time students, regardless of where they live, would have to buy a meal plan for next school year. He listed four different tiers of meal plans with a various number of meals and Blink dollars with assigned pricing from which Covenant students could choose to purchase. Tier 1 was the cheapest option, providing forty-eight meals for $426 per semester, allowing no room for Blink dollars. Tier 4 was the most expensive option, which was a full food plan with $50 in Blink money and $2,080 per semester for the Great Hall.

To justify this change, Dean Voyles provided five reasons for requiring meal plans. First, he pointed out how the students who live off campus and prepare food for themselves could decrease the community and fellowship of the Great Hall. The next reason guaranteed Chartwells would make the sufficient amount of money off food by ensuring students without a meal plan would not obtain free food. Another reason came from student leaders, students, alumni, and the Parents’ Council, who all concluded Chartwells is convenient and provides community, an already established monetary allotment for food, and healthy food options.

However, Dean Voyles acknowledged the concerns he expected to hear from students. Those who live off campus may be doing so in order to provide food for themselves according to their preferences. Additionally, he anticipated some students would be perturbed by Covenant’s force of community or their appearance of merely gaining money from this new policy. Yet, Dean Voyles claimed the benefits outweighed these concerns. He additionally mentioned the new meal plan would be similar to those of Berry College and Taylor University considering how these requirements appear to benefit their communities.

In response to this e-mail, a number of students became resistant. Within no time, Covenant students circulated a petition on Facebook opposing the new policy, saying they did not want Covenant forcing them to commit to a meal plan, with the foremost reason being the high costs of meal plans. Dean Voyles hosted a Q&A to address the questions and concerns issued by students. About a week after the initial e-mail, Dean Voyles sent out another message to the student body, saying he heard the opposition from the students and would not implement a new meal plan for the 2015-2016 school year but may consider a mandatory meal plan for students in Covenant housing for the 2016-2017 school year.

However, amidst the current Carter construction, Covenant students can rest easy for the time being.