UPDATE: Tulane requires all undergraduates to buy into meal plan

Julia Prager-Hessel and Jared Freifeld

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UPDATE: 1:30 p.m. Sunday

Tulane University has since released a statement clarifying its potential implementation of new meal plan policies.

“Tulane is exploring expanding its meal plan to include all undergraduates – from first-year students to seniors,” the statement reads. “Currently, there is no set timeline for the potential implementation of such a plan — however, it will not impact currently enrolled students. We apologize for any miscommunication.”

Though the university hopes students will be open to a meal plan expansion, it also acknowledges that some students might want to opt out. Therefore, the expanded plan will only be offered as feature.

Additionally, Tulane says the funds from the proposed meal plan would not be used to fund construction on the new Commons slated to open August 2019.

“Rather, by proposing a new meal plan, Dining Services hopes to enhance its mission as an essential component of the Tulane experience and provide students with dining options that cater to diverse tastes, incorporate the rich culinary traditions of New Orleans and build community,” the statement reads.

Hallie Olson | Contributing Photographer

The 77,000 square-foot addition to Tulane’s campus, The Commons, will soon replace Tulane’s aging dining hall, Bruff Commons. But at what cost?

Starting with the Class of 2022, Tulane students are required to purchase a meal plan for the entirety of their undergraduate experience in order to pay for the university’s new complex. The estimated cost of the new Commons is $55 million, a much larger price tag than the $29 million it took to build the neighboring Lavin Bernick Center for University Life.

For the Class of 2021 and older, Tulane has held that all students living on campus must enroll in a dining plan, with different, cheaper options available after the first year. Students who live off campus, however, have traditionally had the option to opt out of a dining plan altogether. Now, they will not have that choice.

“Tulane administration implemented this policy to support the increase in undergraduate enrollment as well as the significant expansion of Tulane Dining Services as we transition from Bruff to the new Commons,” Assistant Director of Marketing and Communications Kate Simon said.

The new dining requirements for third- and fourth-year students will be based off of the current upperclassmen plans. Because the Class of 2022 is still in its first year, the details of the options when students begin to move off campus have not been fully developed.

“We know that students value variety and flexibility, and we will provide that in the dining plans,” Simon said. As part of the larger push to enhance student dining, Simon says that student feedback will be at the center of developing new options.

Tulane freshman Yael Pasumansky was unaware of the implementation of the new policy even though it will affect her class once it reaches its junior year. She says what’s most important is a student’s ability to choose.

“I would say it’s important for upperclassmen to continue to have a choice, like as a junior or a senior I think it’s important to have a choice whether you want to be engaged in this meal plan,” Pasumansky said.

Hallie Olson | Contributing Photographer

Pasumansky recognized that this policy change may add an additional expense to some students’ budgets.

“I do think that it could be a difficulty financially because I know a lot of upperclassmen have to manage their college financial situation as they get older,” Pasumansky said.

Compared to Bruff’s seating capacity of 400, The Commons is expected to seat 1,100 students. It will have three floors, multiple dining spaces, classrooms and a variety of event spaces. The university is seeking to make students more comfortable by offering a larger dining area.

“Our goal with The Commons and the redesigned dining plans is to make The Commons a place where students want to dine, not where they feel they are forced to,” Simon said.