Corporation talks dining

Committee listens to students, trustees; no action to reevaluate

No action to reevaluate the proposed dining plan was made by the MIT Corporation after an informal discussion took place at the Corporation meeting on Dec. 3. Dining was not on the original meeting agenda.

“It was on our minds,” said Corporation member Harbo P. Jensen ’74. “Clearly everyone was aware of it.”

Jensen also acts as the Chairman of the Corporation Joint Advisory Committee on Institute-Wide Affairs (CJAC), a committee made up of Corporation trustees, students, and faculty. CJAC acts as a medium in which student and faculty concerns can be addressed directly to the Corporation without first going through the administration.

The day before the Corporation meeting, CJAC met to review their report and presentation to the Corporation. The report covered several issues ranging from student involvement in administrative decision-making to student advising. Although dining was not on the original agenda, Jensen said that approximately one-third of the meeting was dedicated to that issue.

“We all agreed that…there is a lot of emotion and energy behind this,” said Jensen. However, Jensen acknowledged that after three years of crafting a plan, the current proposal might be the best that can be offered.

At the meeting, UA President Vrajesh Y. Modi ’11, who also is a member of CJAC, was asked to give a big-picture presentation on dining to help committee members better understand the undergraduate perspective. According to Modi, the UA cannot support the dining plan if a majority of the affected students do not support the plan. Modi said that he is not confident that the affected students support the plan.

Ulric Ferner G, president of the Graduate Student Council, said that while the GSC is not currently involved in the dining plan, he was happy to listen to the UA report on dining.

By the end of the meeting, it was agreed that while the dining plan has received several complaints, there is little that can be done to make the plan better.

“It’s impossible to make everyone happy,” Jensen said.

The day following the CJAC meeting, the MIT Corporation met to discuss the committees’ final reports. According to Jensen, dining was not on the meeting’s original agenda, but Corporation members spent about as much time discussing dining as they did discussing some Visiting Committee reports, especially if discussions during lunch and various breaks are included. Among other things, Visiting Committees provide recommendations and advice to the Corporation on every academic department.

After several comments and explanations on dining, the discussion ended after it appeared that everyone was generally satisfied with how dining was being handled by the administration, noted Jensen.

The new dining plan, which will be implemented in fall 2011, will require students living in “dining dorms” to pay for all their meals up-front at the beginning of the semester. Previously, students paid a $300 semesterly fee to receive meals at half-price. But under the new plan, students will pay a fee ranging from $2,500 to $4,500 per year, depending on the dining hall and meal option chosen by the student.

The MIT Corporation, also known as the board of trustees of MIT, fulfills several roles including offering guidance on strategic decisions for Institute direction, according to the Corporation’s website. Its responsibilities include approving annual budgets, exercising long-term fiduciary responsibility, approving new degree programs, and electing the President of the Institute. The Corporation meets four times a year to discuss the state of the Institute. Their next meeting will be held on March 4, 2011.