Today, a Record article was released on the administrative response to food insecurity on campus, where students purposefully choose plans with fewer meals in order to save money. The coverage is excellent! Part 1 of a 3 day discussion.

For purposes of comparing the upcoming plans with this year’s plan: Williams offers four options for meal plans that students living on campus must enroll in: 21 meals a week ($6,760 per year or assuming 24 weeks in a year, $13.41/meal), 14 a week ($6,341 or $18.79/meal), 10 a week ($5,164 or $21.51/meal) or, for seniors, 5 a week ($2,728 or $22.73/meal). Note that a sandwich, a bag of chips, and a drink from, say, Spring Street Market, is approx. $12 – lower than any one meal offered by Williams. Wow!

Key quote from Steve Klass, VP of Campus Life on “the critical goal of ensuring that no student goes hungry”:

It’s important to appreciate the centrality of this principle to our decision-making, because we recognized immediately that this meant constraining some set of choices available to students on dining plans.

Emphasis mine. Note that, according to the Record, Sophia Schmidt ’17 first brought up this issue in the fall of 2015. I don’t know what Steve Klass means by “recognized immediately”, but I suppose his definition of “immediately” is at least a year after the fact. Assume that Steve Klass is being honest and really recognized this problem “immediately.” Then why did it take the administration so long to do anything about it? (Why the competent students, who did the research for the admin to “recognize immediately” this problem, were not included in the decision-making process is the subject of another day’s discussion.)

This is concerning, because I don’t believe that Sophia Schmidt ’17 needed that survey to prove that food insecurity is a problem. Much like how swipes in and out of buildings are monitored by campus security, the meal swipes of students are monitored and recorded as well. How would Dining Services know if you used up all your meals at the end of the week, right? Implication: the College has always had the data it would have needed to “recognize immediately” that food insecurity is a problem on campus. 

So why didn’t the administration simply look at the data they already have? They could have saved Schmidt and other students the two years they spent working on this issue if they simply looked at the data they already have. Why didn’t they, if “ensuring that no student goes hungry” is a “critical goal” of the administration? Something does not smell right (and I’m not talking about Taco Tuesdays in Paresky).

But maybe I am wrong and the College does not keep data on food swipes/whether or not its students eat. Unsolicited suggestion: it should! How else will they know if their students are eating? Isn’t “ensuring that no student goes hungry” a “critical goal” of the administration? That nothing has been done until now implies either (1) that Klass/the administration on “recognizing immediately” food insecurity is as honest as Kellyanne Conway on the Bowling Green Massacre, or (2) that whoever is in charge of “the critical goal of ensuring that no student goes hungry” is incompetent to not have recognized this sooner.

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