The Board of Trustees have approved a three percent increase for each meal plan at UConn for the next semester. The intent of these increases is to cover the rising cost of commodities, labor and overhead. This fee increase specifically will help pay for raises in some employee’s salaries, a new waste disposal system, and renovations to Whitney’s serving line. The increase in meal plan prices is needed in large part because Dining Services is not funded by the University. Only the sale of meal plans and meals in general at dining halls generates revenue for the group.
The purpose of these increases is generally beneficial to UConn as a whole. The new waste systems being planned will enable rubbish from the dining halls to be converted into an alternate product or biodiesel fuel. Food waste is a huge problem in this country, and it is heartening to see that the University of Connecticut is taking steps to cut down on this problem. Raises for Dining Services employees are not bad either; it’s certainly not like the fee hikes are being used to give more money to people who already have six figure salaries.
There is not anything inherently wrong with the most recent meal plan price hike. The problem is that it is one more increase added on to the constant fee upticks for students. Everything from tuition to housing fees have been on the rise. These are not necessarily the fault of the University, as budget cuts at the State Capitol have played a large role in these monetary issues. However, UConn needs to make financially intelligent decisions to keep costs down for students. If these trends continue, UConn, a public college, may end up financially out of reach for lower income families.
Maintaining status as a top public research university is important. However, the University of Connecticut should under no circumstances be spending money that it doesn’t have. This may mean scaling back on some of the bigger projects planned at UConn. But becoming a flashier university at the expense of students is not fair. Raising dining services fees is one thing, especially because there is little choice. But the university has to show they are serious about halting the rise of costs in other areas for students. A few hundred dollars may seem like a drop in the bucket for UConn, but they need to understand the serious impact such an increase can have on students.