Meal Plans and Tuition Go Together like Apples and Oranges
On Feb. 3, an article in the Dayton Daily News outlined an analysis on universities like Wittenberg, Miami and Wright State that were among institutions to see a greater increase in meal plan charges than in tuition between the years 2004 and 2014.
For example, the analysis pinpointed typical meal plan charge for Wittenberg students in the 2014/15 school year with a 47.7 percent increase over a 10-year span in comparison to a tuition and fees increase at 45.2 percent increase over the same span. Schools like the University of Dayton saw a 53.9 percent increase in meal plans with a 90.2 percent increase in tuition and fees over the same 10-year span, whereas Wright State, similar to Wittenberg, had a greater increase in meal plans at 44.4 percent over the 10-year span of tuition and fees increase at 39.8 percent.
On Feb. 5, however, another Springfield-News Sun article outlined that the statements about Wittenberg’s cost increases were like “comparing apples to oranges,” the article read.
Such an investigation was much appreciated by Noah Ristau, General Manager of the Campus Dining Services, as the latter article “inspired a more locally-focused investigation,” Ristau said.
Ristau credited dining services for reaching out to students “in a variety of ways to solicit feedback and field concerns,” he said. “These include direct engagement and accessibility in the CDR and Post 95, as well as surveys, comment cards, social media and a recently concluded tour of the residence halls for a series of nighttime open forums between Jan. 14 and Feb. 4,” he added.
Campus Dining Services also held a “Got Beef, Don’t Have a Cow” campaign at the beginning of spring semester to draw attention to the comment cards available on mobile devices, in which the services team saw a “rewarding uptick in student feedback,” said Ristau.
For residence hall senator and sophomore Jessica Nazareth, feedback from students concerning their dining experience has been “surprisingly positive, outweighing the negative feedback during the residence hall tours.”
“Personally, I tend to only hear negative comments; however, as students, we should also look at the positives, such as the new fruit in the CDR or the soup option that is now available at Simply-to-Go in the Science Center,” Nazareth said.
The Feb. 3 article also cited on-campus dining as a huge draw for prospective students visiting campuses everywhere. However, according to Assistant Director of Admission Beth Delaney, “the only concerns we hear are if the prospective students have food allergies. As counselors, we are not typically asked many questions about the dining options,” Delaney said, referencing tour guides as the main voice in telling students about different food options on their on-campus tour.
Maggie Mullens, a sophomore campus tour guide, felt such questions vary tour to tour: “Sometimes I’ll get the ones that do [ask questions], and then I’ll get ones where there’s so much information being thrown at them they don’t think what to ask,” she said.
Despite the seeming lack of interest, however, “Dining Services Director Noah Ristau, along with Director of Residence Life Mark DeVilbiss, present a session called ‘Making the College Transition’ during our accepted student day programs,” Delaney said, which offer feedback to prospective students and family members on questions they may have about their meal options.
Students on Wittenberg’s campus can voice feedback concerning their dining experience through Nazareth’s newly-elected role as secretary of the Dining Services Advisory Committee, which aims to serve “as the bridge between customer experience and dining services communicating and advocating for success, change and solutions to benefit those of the entire Wittenberg community,” Nazareth said.
And, “students are always welcome to use the comment forum on wittenberg.edu/dining or email myself (email@example.com), Nick Rittenhouse (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Brandee Bates (email@example.com) with any concerns,” Nazareth said. “We will also be setting up an old school comment card station outside of the CDR at some points during the semester for students to use.”