In the SGO-conducted student body survey on Feb. 22, 73 percent of respondents approved of a meal plan option that would offer a credit or rebate for missed breakfasts. Almost a quarter of those surveyed said that they would opt out of the current meal plan altogether if they had the option.
The Committee on Priorities and Resources drafted a proposal of meal plan alterations and presented it to Associate Treasurer Peter Shea.
Their suggestions are two-pronged. First, the school should explore the possibility of offering a 14- meal-per-week plan, in addition to the current 21-meal-per-week plan. Second, the school should offer credit for missed meals at Schwemms’.
SGO President Steve Ruckman ’01said that these demands are not unreasonable. “Williams, for example, offers anywhere from five meals a week to the full 21, and Swarthmore’s policy permits missed meals to be rebated at the student union,” he said.
While the current proposal explores several on-campus possibilities, the Off-Campus Meal Plan (OCMP) has not become an issue.
Shea said that he is “willing to give the change a shot.” First, though, the SGO will have to specify which of the two plans they have chosen. The SGO survey found that an equal number of students, 46 percent, support both the rebate and credit proposals.
Emphasizing that this will be “an experiment,” Shea raised some of the logistical problems this transition could pose. For example, he is currently discussing issuing new ID cards that would keep track of meals missed with Dining Services.
Shea also specified that this option would only be made available to upperclassmen, forcing freshmen to remain on the 21 meal-per-week plan.
For Ruckman, though, this project has been a success. “I am very happy with our progress so far,” he said.
Also on the SGO’s agenda this semester are plans to work with the physical plant to construct a socialdorm-Hills lot tunnel. Because students consistently cut across the train tracks to reach the Hills parking lot, rather than using the longer but safer Route 9 path, the College is worried about risk and liability.
The administration has commissioned a civil engineer and hopes to receive an estimate for the tunnel sometime this spring. Depending upon the approval of the Vermont Central Railroad, construction could feasibly begin this summer.
“We want to start as soon as possible,” Director of Facilities Planning and Management Jim Brassord said. “Optimistically we will start this summer. Realistically, though, we may have to wait until the summer of 2002.”
There are several factors that may stall construction, Brassord said. Most important, the engineer’s technical analysis may conclude that the structural support of the tunnel would be too weak to support the weight of freight trains.
The engineer may also face difficulty in designing the tunnel to make it handicapped accessible. Because of “the elevations we are working with,” Brassord said, “the tunnel would require dramatic ramps and slopes.”
In regards to cost, Brassord noted that it is “too early to speculate a price.” However, he recognized that it could be expensive.
Earlier this year, the SGO undertook a project to establish a fleet of vans for the use of clubs and athletic teams. Initially the project of former Student Finance Committee (SFC) Chair Mike DeMichele ’00, the project has come under the direction of Ben Armour ’01, current chair of the SFC.
According to Armour, over $25,400 was requested of the SFC for van rental during the spring of 2000, though only $15,800 could be allocated.
The SFC is not sufficiently funded to satisfy the transportation needs of all campus organizations, Armour said. Moreover, the money currently set aside for transport could be reapportioned with the addition of a fleet of campus-owned vans.
“The genesis of the problem is the demand for short-term use, which is much more expensive,” he said.
Armour organized an exploratory meeting with Shea and Brassord in the beginning of the year. He was encouraged to draft a proposal to the physical plant, documenting the problem and proposing any possible solutions.
Brassord has since explored this issue on his own and is ready to submit a proposal to the Budget Committee. In the report he addressed van housing and whether the school should lease or rent. More importantly, Brassord argued that the physical plant would need an additional employee to process requests and maintain upkeep.
Brassord estimated that the College needs at seven vans, some 12-seaters and some seven-seaters.
If the Budget Committee responds in June in favor of the purchase, the physical plant may make the necessary arrangements by the beginning of next school year.
Citing safety concerns, the SGO also decided to lobby for additional blue light telephones on campus.
Ruckman met last fall with Brassord and Chief of Campus Police John Carter and, since that time, two additional blue lights have been installed along Route 9.
“From every blue light, you should be able to see another blue light,” said Ruckman.