By Grace Scarberry, The Miami Student
Miami University students had the opportunity to express their concerns at an ASG organized event on Wednesday, December 7 in the Armstrong Student Center. Most students related to each other through their common concern about on-campus dining.
Amy Berg, ASG's secretary for Communications and Media Relations, organized the event with her communications committee.
"In my role as Secretary for Communications, it is my job to ensure that ASG is known on campus as a brand," Berg said. "Part of that is having interactions with the students."
Such interaction involves making sure students' voices are heard. ASG ultimately wants to ensure pure representation of the student body.
Students gathered around a table across from Emporium and wrote their concerns on sticky notes and posted them on a large white board.
A few notes read "lack of diversity" or "terrible parking," but an overwhelming majority referred to campus dining issues.
"Dining is such a large part of a student's life here," Berg said. "People spend a lot of time at the dining halls on campus, so a lot of issues can surround them at times."
ASG member James Oaks said students are naturally critical of dining options.
"Food is our most favorite thing," Oaks said. "It's such an important part of our lifestyle, and we want it to be as close to perfect as possible."
Most dining complaints mentioned dining hall hours, non-transferrable swipes, and Bell Tower. Some just simply read "dining halls" or "dining hall hours," while more specific notes read, "unused meal plan swipes don't transfer: waste of money!" or "make Bell great again!"
Before this year, Bell Tower only offered a la carte options, and students would pay for their food based on the meal's weight. Now, their options are half a la carte and half buffet. Sophomore Hannah Greulich said she prefers the full a la carte style.
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"It was a convenient place for midday stops and you were able to take food to go, unlike now," Greulich said.
After having productive conversations with Dining Services, Oaks said he is optimistic for the future of Bell Tower.
"The old Bell Tower was the best, and we're working hard to give students what they want," Oaks said.
Greulich also mentioned meal plan swipes and how they do not roll over into the next semester.
"You basically get cheated out of your meals if you don't use all of them, which is a little ridiculous," Greulich said.
Sophomore Lauren Voegtle agrees that there are problems with the swipe system.
"I think it's really unfair to the freshmen who have to use that system. I have declining balance and I think it's much better," Voegtle said.
Oaks' committee of ASG senators passed a resolution supporting the addition of a new declining-balance heavy meal plan option. It includes $1,100 in declining balance and only 115 meal swipes. He said it is scheduled to soon be approved by the Board of Trustees and should be in effect next year. With this meal plan, students will have more freedom to eat what they want, when they want.
Voegtle also added that dining hall hours can be inconvenient since most of them close around 8 p.m. Such hours don't fit well with a busy student's schedule, especially if they spend late nights studying.
"The underlying problem with dining hall hours is staffing," Oaks said."Once people sign up to work for dining, administrators will have more opportunities to expand hours."
Berg said that ASG works diligently to handle student concerns.
"We go to the greatest school, but like everything, it has its flaws," Berg said. "We want to work towards making Miami a great place for all current and future students."