Fewer meal trades, more problems, say students
By Janie Frank
This semester, the University at Albany has eliminated meal trades.
In previous years, meal trades allowed students to eat somewhere on the podium rather than in a residence dining hall, without having to rely on Munch Money.
Executive Director of University Auxiliary Services, Stephen Pearse, said meal trades are no longer possible due to the renovation in the Campus Center. There are not as many eateries open to students.
“When you look at the sheer number of transactions through meal trades… with the reduced number of locations, there were not enough locations to handle that type of business,” Pearse said.
Pearse said students would have to wait in line for absurd amounts of time to get their food.
“It would be crazy. You could never even get into the place,” he said. “It’s the sheer nature of having to do the renovations in the Campus Center.”
Many students are not happy with the new meal plans.
Jessica Michel, a junior at UAlbany, created a petition on change.org entitiled “BRING BACK MEAL TRADES.” The petition has almost 400 supporters.
“I am upset with the university,” Michel said. “The school didn’t give out proper warning or a proper reasoning for not allowing meal trades anymore.”
Michel does not find the food in the dining halls to be as good as food served elsewhere on campus.
In her description on the petition, Michel mentioned how the lack of meal trades is changing her eating habits.
“My munch money decreases with every meal,” she said. “Because of this, I am limiting myself to fewer meals so that I can save my munch money. I barely eat at the dining hall because the food they serve isn’t as appetizing or fresh to me.”
Michel also mentioned that the dining hall hours are inconvenient for her. However, Indian Quad did receive extended dining hall hours to help accommodate students, according to Pearse.
Other students are disappointed in the meal options this semester as well.
“Meal trades were great, especially as an incoming freshman. I relied on these more than the dining hall,” said Teah Sisti, a junior. “It’s ridiculous that the school got rid of them. I know a lot of people are upset about it.”
Alison Shimel, a senior, says she did not get a meal plan at all this year because meal trades have been eliminated.
The change in meal trades being offered has occurred over time. Meal trades have been lessened on meal plans over the last few years.
“The meal plans that had meal trades had been reduced,” Pearse said. “The number of locations didn’t change, just the meal plans.”
Hope for students like Michel is not all lost.
Pearse says that, in their prior form, meal trades will probably never come back to the UAlbany. However, alterations may be made to meal plans in the future.
“We’re looking at major changes to the meal plans when the Campus Center reopens,” he said.
UAS is getting feedback from students to see what things should be changed, according to Pearse. They are also looking into what other campuses have done with their meal plans.
“Students want a retail component. We understand that,” he said. “It’s just a matter of trying to figure out what’s the best way to get there.”
UAlbany junior Jed Shattuck said not having meal trades is a huge blow, particularly to upper classmen who remember the meal trades from a few years ago. He said finding meals is difficult now because now he has to be careful not to spend all of his Munch Money.
“It sucks because I do like the new addition to the campus center and I know that it takes money for projects like that but losing all the amenities we once had makes the dining experience a little less accessible every year.”