By Ashar Memon, January 16 2018 —
The University of Calgary is implementing a new residence meal plan and reducing fees in some residence buildings starting May 2018, after the Board of Governors voted to approve the changes on Dec. 15.
While most residences rates will remain the same for next year, Yamnuska Hall will see a decrease in fees and there will no longer be an upper-floor rate in Aurora Hall and Crowsnest Hall.
“We felt that these were in line with what’s in the market, for us to remain competitive in the marketplace and what students’ expectations are,” director of ancillary services Shane Royal said.
Changes to the residence meal plan will include reducing flex funds and introducing an ‘All You Care to Eat’ buffet-style service in the Dining Centre. Students will also be able to choose between either a five- or seven-day meal plan and 120 or 250 limited entries for the year. Another change to be implemented in May is the elimination of a mandatory meal plan for Yamnuska Hall, which traditionally houses second-year students and includes suites with kitchenettes.
Royal said that the new changes to the residence meal plan were made in consultation with students.
“That’s primarily based off student feedback we have received,” he said. “Not all students feel that they need a meal plan so we wanted to give students a choice.”
When the new meal plans were first proposed in fall 2017, Students’ Union vice-president student life Hilary Jahelka said that she was concerned the new changes weren’t made with enough feedback from students.
She said then that her other concerns included the reduction in flex funds, as well a lack of choice on where students spend their money.
The final set of changes approved by the BOG did not include a sharp decrease in flex funds to $400 in 2018, which was originally proposed. Instead, flex funds will decline progressively to $800 in 2018, $600 in 2019 and $400 in 2020. SU president Branden Cave said that this change is in direct response to concerns brought forward by the organization.
“We were able to get a better deal for students than the original one that was proposed and the original one that was supported by the [Residence Students’ Association],” Cave said.
Cave said the SU has been advocating to get Yamnuska off the mandatory meal plan for years.
“So some fairly substantial wins, and compromises from the university’s side so we voted in favour of [the changes] at the end of the day,” he said.
Both Cave and Jahelka added that the university has committed to conducting a survey to collect student feedback on the new meal plan.
“We asked for it to be an independent survey so hopefully that’s what we see so that it’s unbiased and the results are as honest as they can be,” Jahelka said.
Cave added that with the new changes to the residence meal plan, as well as a maintenance or decrease in residence fees for some buildings on campus, residence will become more accessible to students.
“For myself. as a rural kid, [residence] was a valuable experience,” Cave said. “I find that residence is important for our rural and international students — it’s important because coming to the city, it’s one of the things where I needed residence to support me through that.”