As the weather gets warmer and the end of the semester approaches, students are beginning to stress about more than just final papers, exams, and projects. On campus, it is common for students, especially first-years and sophomores who have limited meal plans, to run out of meals, points, or both well before they leave for summer vacation. When confronted with this situation, students have various unique ways of coping. While some resort to Middletown Cash or real money, others rely on friends who have been able to manage their meal plan throughout the semester.
Ryan Dobrin ’18 is one such student, whose friends have depended on him for spare points and meals. He has used an organized system to evenly allocate his points throughout the year. He has the block 105 meal plan, which provides 105 meals and 745 points.
“I have about 26 meals and 260 points left,” Dobrin said. “At the very beginning of the semester, I go onto the Wesleyan point calculator and that becomes my lifeline. I check it every couple of days to see how many meals and points I am allotted per day. I try to not go over that, or if I do, I try to make it up by not using as many the next day.”
Though Dobrin is dedicated to his method, it is sometimes difficult for him to stay on top of it.
“The biggest problem is when I forget to check the calculator and then spend too many points on specials at ’Swings,” Dobrin said. “Then my average goes down and I have to recheck myself.”
Unlike Dobrin, other students use their meal plans without ever checking them. Sojeong Park ’19, for example, runs out of points well before the end of the semester. At the point of interviewing, Park had zero points and 39 meals left.
“I subsist on a diet of coffee and chips…I just go to Weshop every time I am hungry,” Park said. “I also spend a lot of time at SciLi, so I just end up spending a lot of points at Pi.”
Park realizes that if she used a system like Dobrin’s, she would probably be able to make her points last for the entire semester.
“I think the problem is that I don’t assign how many points I use per week or anything,” she said. “I think the school does a good job at giving us a good amount of meals and points; I just don’t think I am good at handling them. A lot of people can make it through the semester with 523 points. My situation just shows that I am bad at managing them. Also, I have so many meals left over, so I think I just used points instead of balancing them with meals, so that is also my fault.”
Sometimes sophomores with plans including more meals actually run out of meals before they run out of points. As a first-year student, it is a lot easier to distribute 135 meals evenly throughout the semester than it is to do so with 105 meals as a sophomore. Christina Sickinger ’18 realized this fact this semester. Sickinger has 2 guest meals and 99 points left.
“I wasn’t planning on running out [of] meals and points, and I haven’t in the past,” Sickinger wrote in an email to The Argus. “I ended up eating more meals than I thought I would this semester, and I guess I didn’t watch my points very carefully either. It’s hard to stick with a budget for a meal plan because you always have to eat!”
Now, Sickinger plans to manage what little is left of her meal plan very carefully.
“I’m just trying to make the rest of my points last as long as possible by eating cheap food from Weshop and Pi when I can or making leftovers last for a while,” she said. “After that, I’ll switch to Middletown Cash. I definitely would like to have a bigger meal plan because I don’t think that students should have to stress about finding something to eat.”
Some students, such as Yuhan Wang ’19, do not use a system to manage their meal plan. But still, they somehow have many meals and points at the end of the semester. Wang has approximately 54 meals and 370 points left.
“I live a very frugal lifestyle,” Wang said. “I just think that my lifestyle doesn’t allow me to spend that many points. I try to swipe my meals, but I don’t eat breakfast and I often eat ramen in my room. I also often go to Star and Crescent, but I am typically one of the first three freshmen there, so I eat for free. I don’t really go to ’Swings, Weshop, or Pi.”
Unlike most other students, Wang wishes that the University would offer a smaller, cheaper meal plan for students who do not use theirs up.
“It makes no sense that I have so many points left,” she said. “I am just kind of wasting 300 to 400 dollars, and, if there was a smaller meal plan, I wouldn’t be wasting that money. Lately, I have been buying food for all of my friends because I don’t know how else to spend them.”
Jackie Kilar ’19 and Nancy Billings ’19 are roommates with different meal plans who depend on each other to make their meal plans last for the entire semester. Kilar has the block 165 plan, with 165 meals and 302 points. Billings has the block 135 plan, with 135 meals and 523 points.
“This semester, I had about 200 points roll over, so I had a solid cushion,” Billings wrote in an email to The Argus. “Last semester, I did not realize that Weshop took points, so I didn’t ever go there. My roommate, Jackie, has a plan with more meals than I do, so if I were to run out meals, she would cover them. Since she is so low on points now, I usually buy her stuff from Weshop.”
Their arrangement has allowed Kilar to continue eating food from places other than Usdan.
“I had the plan with the least amount of points last semester, so I thought the middle plan would be good for this semester,” Kilar said. “I did not budget my points how I should have, and I should have gotten the plan with more points. Now, my roommate buys me stuff with her extra points, and I just use my excess meals a lot more often.”
Since students often run out of meals or points well before the semester ends, the University has adopted the Emergency Dining Points Grant Program, which allows students who are receiving financial aid and are completely out of meals and points to apply for 100 extra points for the semester. This program is a step in the right direction, but many students still feel that the University should have larger standard meal plans.
“I think it is very silly that it is impossible to ever have three meals a day,” Dobrin said. “None of the meal plans are able to possibly supply us with three meals a day. At the very least, it should be possible for us to use two meal swipes and then have one meal with points. Without that, we are not getting the proper number of meals that we are hypothetically supposed to.”