SmartChoice to replace dining plan

by Nathan Yeo | 8/8/11 10:00pm

The incoming Class of 2015 will be the first group of freshmen to experience this year's changes to Dartmouth's dining system, which include the renovated Class of 1953 Commons and the new SmartChoice meal plan.

The Class of 1953 Commons, formerly Thayer Dining Hall, has been under construction since Winter term 2011, but is on schedule to be completed by this Fall term.

The new dining area will feature various types of seating on the upstairs floors, including booths, circular tables and rectangular tables, according to director of dining services David Newlove. The Class of 1953 Commons will contain 1,000 seats by the end of renovations, compared to its previous capacity of 700.

Other renovations include handicap accessibility for the front door and upper floors, as well as the removal of asbestos-filled ceiling panels.

The renovated Commons will also have a social space downstairs that can be used for dances, concerts and meetings, according to Newlove.

Dartmouth Dining Services employees will also now prepare food behind transparent panels in front of the kitchens, allowing students to see their food being cooked as they wait in line, Newlove said.

After renovations are completed, '53 Commons will feature a new hearth oven, "ethnic foods," a bakery, a new salad bar, a panini grill station and a "fire and ice" station where students can watch their food being prepared in front of them, Newlove said.

The Class of 2015 will also be the first incoming class to have the new SmartChoice dining plan instead of the current Declining Balance Account plans. Students will be able to use SmartChoice meal points to purchase an unlimited amount of food at '53 Commons or prepared meals at Collis or the Courtyard Caf. Meal points can also be used to purchase food up to a specific dollar amount at any dining location.

Students will continue to use DBA to purchase food in addition to the SmartChoice points, and each of the new dining plans will have a corresponding amount of DBA.

Dartmouth students must choose between five different meal plans, each of which offers a different number of meals per week and different values of DBA per term. A five meal per week plan will have a DBA allowance of $875 and will cost a total of $1,440 per term.

The SmartChoice options of 20 and 14 meals per week will include $75 and $125 worth of DBA, respectively, according to the DDS website. The 20-meal plan will cost $1,658, while the 14-meal plan will cost $1,575.

For students who reside off-campus, DDS will offer a "DBA-only" plan for $875. Off-campus students and those who have used all of their allotted weekly meals can dine at '53 Commons by paying a set door price.

During this past Spring term, DDS announced its plans to modify its original SmartChoice plan in response to student concerns, and these adjustments were finalized in July. The College will continue to solicit student feedback through a Blitz account designated for suggestions and comment cards and may use the information to further adjust SmartChoice in the future, according to Associate Dean for Campus Life April Thompson.

"We really need to know what students are feeling with the new plan so we can make sure they have the best dining experience possible," she said.