Facebook petition calls for meal plan changes

More than 1,000 students struggling to adjust to the new meal plan joined a Facebook petition in its first week of existence, giving some students hope that changes will be made, the creator of the petition said.

Sophomore prebusiness major Albert Rayle, creator of the Facebook group “Petition against TCU’s new meal plan,” said the quick response the group received is proof that opposition to the new meal plans is widespread.

“They kept saying there was no opposition or a small fraction of opposition, so I figured that Facebook was the best way to prove them wrong,” Rayle said. “The more people I talk to, the more people say they hate it.”

Rayle said students’ main complaints are the new Frog Bucks system, the price increase from last year’s meal plans and the inability to take food out of Market Square, the new all-you-can-eat dining hall on campus.

The main goal is to get all on-campus dining on the swipe card, Rayle said.

The current unlimited-access meal plan ranges from $1,799 to $2,099. Unlimited access applies only to Market Square. Each plan includes $100 to $450 Frog Bucks, which can be used to purchase food in other campus dining locations and certain off-campus eateries. The retail-style meal plan last year ranged from $1,200 to $1,600, and students couldn’t purchase food off campus with their ID card.

Craig Allen, director of Residential Services, said the initial student response to the meal plan has been about what was expected.

“It’s been excitement, and it’s been an adjustment,” he said.

Rayle met with Rick Flores, general manager of Dining Services, and Allen on separate occasions to discuss potential resolutions to the above-mentioned issues. Each meeting yielded different results, Rayle said.

Rayle said he created the Facebook group after his meeting with Flores, who Rayle said told him opposition to the meal plans was minimal.

Flores said the most important part of the meal plan is making sure students know how it works.

“The biggest thing is to make sure they understand how the plan works,” Flores said. “It’s been a major shift for everyone. It’s been quite an adjustment for the upperclassmen because they were so used to the plan before.”

Rayle said his meeting with Allen was more successful.

Allen said some small changes will be made, such as the installation of clocks and an ice cream machine in Market Square at the request of students.

Although many suggestions have been offered, any potential big changes will have to wait, Allen said.

“They’ve all given suggestions,” Allen said. “Many of them can’t be implemented right away. Some of them can be. We’ll see what changes we need to make for next semester and next year. But it’s a little early to start making wholesale changes to everything. We’re three weeks into school.”

Rayle said the changes were a start, but added he will continue to push for more improvements.

“Right now, I’m just meeting with people trying to get things going,” Rayle said. “Everyone’s helpful. Everyone wants to do something.”

The new mean plan system has made Pond Street Grill obsolete. The once-popular dining location served about 100 meals last week, Allen said.

As of now, Pond Street hasn’t been changed, but there have already been talks about altering its format to make it a viable dining option once again, Allen said.

Legia Abato, marketing manager for Dining Services, said things are still being adjusted with the plans, and Dining Services is always open to suggestions.

“It’s new for them (students),” Abato said. Change is always hard.”