Dining plan costs to rise next fall

Dining Services announced Tuesday at the Student Government House of Representatives meeting that the dining plan will rise in cost fall 2008 and representatives expressed concern about how it will affect the student body. Rick Flores, general manager of Dining Services, told representatives the cost has not yet been determined, but he thinks the new plan for on-campus residents will cost between $1,900 and $2,100. The current plans offered range from $1,400 to $1,800.

Flores said one reason for the increase is TCU will have more service workers to pay and the expenses for the building itself will have to be paid back. He said the new plan will be a carte blanche setup, allowing students unlimited access into any part of the dining hall after they swipe their cards.

The new dining hall will include a salad bar, a pizza/pasta station, a grill station, a deli station, a home station and a restaurant, Flores said.

Kirk Kindy, Dining Services committee chair, said the restaurant will have a sports bar feel with flat screens and two pool tables.

Flores said the new hall will seat about 700 people – 600 on the inside and about 150 on the patio.

Flores also said accompanying the new plan will be a certain amount of money that can be spent on other retail stores around campus. Flores said the on-campus residents will be able to choose from three pre-set retail dollar options to go with the unlimited plan.

“The whole vision is a community dining location,” Flores said. “If you don’t have a meal plan you can still add retail dollars.”

Flores said commuters do not have to accept the unlimited meal plan. He said they can buy a package or they can pay the door price to get into the dining hall. They also have the choice of adding money to their cards, similar to the system now, but that money can only be used in the other retail outlets, not the dining hall, Flores said.

Myra Mills, a sophomore music education major, said she originally thought raising the meal plan price seemed outrageous.

“I really like the idea of more community dining, but the price was a big deal for me,” Mills said.

After finding out why the meal plan price was going up, Mills said, she understood the situation and thought the student body should be informed, as well.

Kindy, a sophomore political science major, said he plans to hold information sessions outside The Main to answer any questions students may have and put notecards on the tables to address frequently asked questions.

“Students are going to be shocked, so I want to inform them of what is going on,” Kindy said. “If people understand, then they can say if they don’t agree and voice their opinions.”

And Kindy said he likes the idea of an all-you-can-eat dining format.

“There will be more options available and longer hours,” Kindy said.

However, if students have a complaint, Kindy said, Dining Services would be happy to hear them.

“Students don’t usually like change,” Kindy said. “So older students probably won’t like the plan because they’re not used to it. But that is why we’re announcing it now and asking questions.”

Mills agreed.

“Students shouldn’t be afraid of change,” she said. “It can be a good thing; we just have to get the kinks worked out.