This year has brought about a lot of change on campus. Some of the biggest have been the switch to Tech’s own dining company and the completion of the Student Center.
The Student Center has multiple dining options for Tech students ranging from Twisted Taco to Panda Express to three different Tech Dining options.
Each of these takes credit cards, dining dollars, and Buzzfunds, yet none of these restaurants take meal swipes.
Currently, the only places on campus that take meal swipes are Brittain, North Avenue and West Village — all of which are on the outskirts of campus.
This poses a challenge for students, especially freshmen, trying to get lunch in between classes.
It’s a 15-minute walk, one-way, from most classes to the dining halls, which makes it hard to grab a meal with the 45 minutes between classes for lunch.
In the past, Rising Roll, Twisted Taco and the Athlete Dining Hall all used to accept meal swipes; the non-Tech Dining options in the student center can make the change, however, none of them do now. Also, before the renovations, three different restaurants in the student center accepted meal swipes.
Furthermore, with the three Tech Dining places, it is totally possible to allow meal swipes for all or even some of the food choices available.
Doing so will give students with the meal plan the ability to use their meal swipes in the center of campus, which does not require them to go out of their way to get energy in the middle of the day.
Since most freshmen are on the First-Year Experience (a program that costs about $2800) for meal swipes, it makes sense to try to accommodate them as they transition into college.
Providing access to food in the center of campus can encourage students to attend class, knowing that food is not far away.
It can also make them more active on campus, giving them a reason to leave the dorms and experience the hustle and bustle in the center of campus.
Here, they could run into different student organizations tabling on Skiles Walkway and join one, participate in a bake sale or just relax on Tech Green.
Tech states that the physical and mental well-being of its students is a top priority, and putting meal swipe options in the Student Center can help achieve that goal. It enables students, especially those with physical disabilities, a central place to get food, allowing them to quickly grab a meal and go — providing much-needed nutrition and energy in the middle of a hectic and busy day.
Allowing the use of meal swipes in the student center might also make the meal plan more appealing to upperclassmen. One of the biggest complaints, besides the only options being on the outskirts, is that the food is just not good as other options.
Giving them the ability to use the swipes in the Student Center can vary the type of food they can get. They are no longer eating “dining hall food,” instead they can eat at a place where they can hang out with friends and family who don’t have a meal plan.
Furthermore, RAs are given a 100-swipe plan. While they can, and do, use it to eat with their residents in the dining halls, the student center would provide a place for them to eat without having to feel pressured to be an RA while not on duty.
Clearly, there are plenty of benefits to providing meal swipe options in the Student Center. Some are more direct than others, like convenient access to food while some of the benefits are tangentially related.
It encourages students to come to the center of campus and participate in the events that happen during the day there. It gives them the chance to bear witness to everything the Institute has to offer.