DDS to institute new unlimited swipes plan

by Hannah Jinks | 4/12/19 2:05am

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DDS’ new swipes plan will allow unlimited access to the Class of ’53 Commons.

by Arya Kadakia / The Dartmouth

An “unlimited swipes” meal plan will replace Dartmouth Dining Services’ Ivy Standard Plan ­— which allows 28 swipes a week — in the fall of 2019. Two other plans, the 80 Block Plus and the 115 Block Plus, will replace the 75 Block Choice and 125 Block Choice, respectively. The 5 Weekly Plan and On and Off-Campus Apartment plans will remain as options for returning students. 

The unlimited swipes plan will allow students unlimited access to the Class of ’53 Commons, which will stay open constantly from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Students who opt for the unlimited swipes plan will no longer be limited to one swipe per standardized meal period: breakfast, lunch, dinner and late night. This plan also includes “equivalencies” at the Collis Café and the Courtyard Café and three guest swipes per term. 

DDS director Jon Plodzik said the price of the unlimited swipes plan will not differ much from the price of the Ivy Standard Plan. Specific information on the prices of plans and DBA allocation will be released on DDS’ website in the coming weeks. 

Additionally, the 80 Block Plus and 115 Block Plus plans will offer more than one swipe per meal period, according to Plodzik.

Plodzik said the unlimited swipes plan will grant students a one-swipe equivalency at the Collis Café and the Courtyard Café as well as a to-go option at the Class of ’53 Commons. However, there is a caveat: Students who utilize either of these options may not swipe into the Class of ’53 Commons for the rest of that meal period. 

The current values covered by a meal swipe will remain in place: $5.25 for breakfast and late night, $7.75 for lunch and $10.00 for dinner. Plodzik said the new plans address persistent issues with the existing system, as students who run out of swipes feel obliged to choose between spending DBA and their own money. 

For this reason, DDS’ meal plan offerings have gradually shifted toward an unlimited swipes option, according to Plodzik. The Ivy Standard Plan and the new unlimited swipes plan were also designed to incentivize students to eat at the Class of ’53 Commons, Plodzik said, because other facilities, such as the Collis Café and the Courtyard Café, cannot accommodate the prevailing student crowds. Plodzik added that he expects the new unlimited swipes plan to lessen the student burden at the Class of ’53 Commons during peak times and ameliorate seating issues. 

“The unlimited plan doesn’t eliminate the peak time crowd, but it flattens the curve out,” Plodzik said. 

Plodzik also discussed other potential changes that may occur in the near future. Next year, Novack Café may start to provide Starbucks products. Additionally, new cafés, which will accept DBA, will open in Dana Biomedical Library and The Arthur L. Irving Institute for Energy and Society. Finally, fingerprint technology will replace the swipe-in mechanism in the next couple of years. 

DDS tries to incorporate student feedback into their adaptive model, Plodzik said. He added that the Student Advisory Committee and Student Assembly work alongside his staff to reflect “what the students really want.”  

However, students have expressed concern regarding overpriced goods and the mismatched value of swipes at the Class of ’53 Commons and other dining facilities. 

Lidia Balanovich ’22 said she believes DDS overcharges students.  

“For instance, the notorious fruit cup at [the Courtyard Café] does not cost $5.75,” Balanovich said. “I’ve gone to [Price Chopper Supermarket] and gotten the same fruit cup for $2.50.”  

Balanovich added that she does not believe the Class of ’53 Commons offers the best value. She said that she and other students do not need “$15-worth of food” and prefer the Collis and Courtyard cafés. 

Isabelle Glennon ’22 said she favors the Collis and Courtyard cafés as well. She said that the buffet-style dining at the Class of ’53 Commons is unsuitable for most meals. 

“I definitely don’t think [the Class of ’53 Commons] provides the best value,” Glennon said. “Unless I’m planning on getting three plates of food, I’m usually not going to go there.” 

The current door price at the Class of ’53 Commons is $7.75 for breakfast, $10.75 for lunch and $14.95 for dinner — meal swipes at the Collis and Courtyard cafés are less valuable by $2.50 for breakfast, $3 for lunch, and $4.95 for dinner. This mismatched value is “unfair,” according to Balanovich. 

In response to this issue, Plodzik said DDS calculates equivalency values across dining facilities based on food costs and staff wages. For example, the increased cost of food and labor at Class of ’53 Commons raises the door price, according to Plodzik. 

Plodzik added that he appreciates student feedback and welcomes suggestions at any time.