By Jonathan Smith, Editor in Chief
Kevin Watson, chief administrative services officer, spoke to Student Congress on Wednesday night and answered questions regarding the university’s meal plan policy.
Watson talked to students for 30 minutes, answering questions that ranged from why students cannot swipe their cards multiple times per meal to if there are plans to extend some food vendors’ hours of operation.
Much of the conversation centered on how the university budgets for students’ meals and if the students received their money’s worth.
When asked why students could no longer use multiple meal plans at any given meal, Watson said it would likely increase the number of meal plans used, effectively increasing the price of the meal plans.
“When we price our meal plans, we price them expecting you to eat between 75 to 80 percent of those,” Watson said. “If meal plan usage goes up, we have to start charging more for it.”
Because ACU outsources food services to ARAMARK, the university pays a fee for each meal plan used. Watson said using ARAMARK seemed to be more cost-effective than if the university managed food services.
Watson said individual students could have legitimate arguments against the current meal plan system, but the current system in place provides the most cost-effective service to the most students.
The Students’ Association also discussed a bill creating guidelines for a future scholarship for student leaders on campus. However, as debate brought the meeting near 7 p.m. and Congress drew close to losing quorum, members opted to table the bill until a later time.
The bill would have created the structure for a committee to select recipients for the scholarship. The amount of the scholarship each year could depend on how much money was given for the fund.
The bill, presented by junior Sen. Sarah Carlson and Rep. Ashley Downhour, Biblical Studies Building, would have also set guidelines for selecting the scholarship recipient. The scholarship would be for students involved as a leader in at least two campus activities and maintain at least a 3.0 grade point average.
Some members of Congress questioned the wording of several other of the scholarship’s requirements, including that recipients never have been arrested except for civil disobedience and never been on academic probation.
Rep. Chris Smith, Foster Science Building, suggested replacing such phrases as “never been” with “not be” so the committee would be able to consider special cases, like that a person might have changed their ways. Several others agreed.
“When you put absolute statements in, you take away the power of the committee to choose,” said freshman Sen. Brandon Smith.
Others saw no problem with setting absolute requirements.
This person should not have been arrested,” said Rep. Bob Parsons, Administration Building. “There’s nothing wrong with setting a high standard for people you are going to pay.”
The proposed change failed in a vote.
To keep the bill alive, Congress must bring it back up by Dec. 1, the next and last meeting of the semester.