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Students Upset Over New UW-Madison Dining Plan

Incoming Students Living On Campus Will Be Required To Have Dining Plan

Snowstorm on the UW-Madison campus
Bill Martens/WPR

University of Wisconsin-Madison students are upset about a new mandatory meal plan expected to begin this fall.

The plan will require all incoming students living on campus to purchase, at minimum, a $1,400 meal plan for the 2018-19 academic year.

Unlike other schools in the UW System, UW-Madison hasn’t required students to purchase a meal plan. Instead, students would pay as they ate at dining facilities.

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The plan has upset students so much that they’ve protested.

Tyriek Mack, a senior studying economics at UW-Madison, was one of the organizers of a protest Wednesday in Gordon Commons on campus. He said the new plan harms students who have dietary and financial restrictions.

“It strangles the freedom of students to make choices about how they want to live their lives,” Mack said. “And we know that as students that dining hall food … is super expensive. It isn’t very much comparable with the price of food around it.”

Mack also said this plan is just increasing costs for students already saddled with debt.

With the new plan, students with meal plans will swipe for their meals and the cost will be deducted from their balance. Money that is not spent will roll over. The minimum plan for $1,400 will provide about nine meals a week, according to UW-Madison.

Jeff Novak, UW-Madison University Housing Director, said this plan will improve the financial model for dining services and could make prices more affordable.

“So by knowing we have a certain amount of individuals that will dine with us every year, we can price accordingly, and make a better and more flexible dining program for everyone,” Novak said.

Students with dietary or religious restrictions unable to eat at the dining halls can opt out of the requirement. Dining services will still serve people without meal plans.