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Letter to the Editor: Food for thought — A perspective on OSU’s dining plans

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As many might know, the Undergraduate Student Government, partnering with the Residence Hall Activity Council, has recently opened a new dining survey to the student body. The goal of this particular survey is to gauge student opinions on the new set of dining plans that was launched at the beginning of this academic year. Students with meal plans campus-wide are encouraged to share their experiences via the survey link: go.osu.edu/diningsurvey

After taking the survey myself, I spent some time reflecting on my own experiences with dining. As a busy student, I wanted an affordable meal plan that was flexible to my schedule. I wanted to be able to eat primarily on campus but still be able get some food off campus when I wanted to. This is why I initially chose the Access 7 dining plan, which comes with seven traditions visits each week, along with $300 dining dollars that can be used at any of the other Dining Services locations.

Since then, I can say that my dining experience has not been what I expected it to be. In fact, recently, I ran out of dining dollars and it has been a struggle for me to properly manage my weekly traditions visits. I have added some more dining dollars on, but I am still stressed about how I should spend my plan. I’m sure many students are in the same boat. At the end of each week, I either have too many traditions visits or too few. Looking back, perhaps I chose the wrong dining plan; however, I am not sure I would be better off on the other dining options.

The other plans above the Access 7, which include Gray 10, Scarlet 14 and Unlimited, are more expensive and consist of greater traditions visits. This concept, in and of itself, is quite counterintuitive. For instance, imagine having your money in an account in the bank and being told that if you don’t spend this money by the end of the week, it would be gone. This is how I feel currently while using weekly traditions visits.

The restraints that come with the weekly limit also carry over into weeks, such as fall break or Thanksgiving break. After Tuesday, I will be home for the Thanksgiving holiday and won’t be on campus to eat in the dining halls. I am not sure what I am going to do with my weekly traditions visits this week, and I worry that they will most likely go to waste.

We are lucky that our university is open to change, but it is up to students to share their experiences first. RHAC, with the help of USG, has put on dining discussions this past semester where we can have a platform to do exactly this. One of the most significant outcomes of these discussions has been the addition of tradition exchanges (or the VX Program) at dining locations. This exchange program has allowed students to trade their weekly tradition visits for food at other dining locations, giving students alternate opportunities to spend their meal plan.  

When I don’t go to traditions dining locations, I often exchange my traditions visits for food at the other service locations, like the Union Market. However, I feel that the dining dollar exchange does not always seem fair. I am limited to only certain options for this exchange, and it is also a smaller portion of food than what I would have gotten at a traditions place like, Kennedy or Scott Commons.

From swipes to blocks to traditions visits, the meal plan has been changing almost every year since 2011. Dining as a whole is a transforming process that weighs the views of not only the administrators at OSU but also the perspectives of students who eat within its dining halls. This is why student participation and feedback are so important. I encourage all Buckeyes to share their experiences about dining. The first place we can all start is definitely through the dining survey: go.osu.edu/diningsurvey.


Sunder Sai

Second-year in neuroscience

Deputy Director of Health and Safety Committee, USG


  1. I wish we could just have the meal plan based on this year’s dining dollars. What’s the point of having a currency unit that doesn’t rollover week to week or semester to semester? Why have a currency unit that can only be spent in $5 increments? The current system seems to be designed to make sure that at least some of our money isn’t spent and pocketed by food services (or whoever the money goes to). Of course, none of this would be an issue if we weren’t *forced* by the university to have these plans for living on-campus (another thing we’re forced to do).

    Either offer a reasonable system, or don’t force us to use an unreasonable one. Any other option is just exploiting students.

  2. USG has had a laser like focus on the dining plans as their primary focus for supposed policy change forever.
    Its been years of USG claiming they are doing something in this area and then whining when they actually haven’t accomplished a thing after a year of claiming they are. Year after year, same story.

    How about you move on to something bigger for once, instead of sitting around patting each others backs and padding resumes with pseudo accomplishments?
    There are big issues on campus and USG is not much more than a puppet for the administration in everything that really matters long term.
    I’m sick of hearing about swipes, I want more substance from these elected student leaders.

    • As a member who is not in USG I can tell you that the work these students do actually have real affects in the university. No one is padding resumes from my opinion. Just look at the many things that USG has done and has had very little recognition for: CABS busses, getting dining halls to be open for 24 hours, the buckeye buses that allow hundreds of students to be able to travel home over the holidays, student safety packs, and even the OSU mobile app that so many students use every day. Even dining is a very good example. Those dining discussions that USG held actually have made a change. USG was able to encourage dining to add VX exchange program, a direct result of their efforts. USG has passed resolutions and worked relentlessly to convince the university to change dining plans- we can see this because dining has changed a bunch of times every year. I encourage you to actually learn about what these student leaders have done because it seems like they are doing a lot.

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