From Friday, Nov. 19 to Sunday, Nov. 28, residential meal plans shut down at the University of Connecticut. This is understandable, as the dining hall workers deserve as much of a break as the students. The issue is that this change was not sufficiently communicated to the community with enough advanced notice.
Sure, UConn dining’s plan for Thanksgiving break appeared on the school website as early as Nov. 2, but students shouldn’t be expected to seek out such crucial information for themselves.
A simple email, possibly sent a few times to remind students, would have been immensely helpful in order to inform meal plan holders that they were eligible to apply for gratis meals for the week. While the Nov. 19 Student Daily Digest, which was delivered to students’ emails at 11 a.m., did include a link to the Nov. 2 dining services post, this gave students less than nine hours of notice to figure things out. Why did this link only appear in the Daily Digest the day meal plans were scheduled to end? Students were also told about this was through a post on UConn dining’s Instagram page, but, once again, this was only posted three days prior to the shutdown. This is certainly a better attempt than the Daily Digest post but still gave students little time and only catered to students who both have Instagram and follow the account.
While a separate email sent a few days in advance would have been the best option, at least having the information listed in the Daily Digest or on Instagram more than a few hours or days in advance would have been massively helpful.
On the subject of the gratis meals offered from Nov. 20 to Nov. 27, on the off chance that a student did find the information in time, the website gives no explicit instructions on how to sign up for these.
For the future, avoiding a situation like this is incredibly easy to do and will significantly help many students with meal plans. The late notice given this time seems to imply UConn expected all students to leave immediately on Friday, which wasn’t possible for many. Some have classes late into Friday afternoon. Others don’t have the means to return home on their own and can’t leave until days later. Of course this doesn’t even account for the largest group of students affected: those who didn’t leave campus at all.
UConn is a place that people from all over the world choose to go to school, many of whom do not have the opportunity to pack up and go home only to return a week later. The very least they are owed is early notification to sign up for the meals they’re entitled to.