Earlier this month, the Martha Cook Residence Hall’s Board of Governors sent out a revised 2020-2021 dining hall schedule to residents. The new dining plan will include a 17-meal plan Sunday through Friday, with no dining hall access on Saturdays. It will also continue to provide Deluxe Tea on Friday, and special dining events throughout the year. 

Currently, the Martha Cook dining hall is open from 7:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on weekdays and has limited hours on weekends, while other dining halls on campus are open from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. on weekdays and on weekends from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. for brunch and 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. for dinner.  

With the current plan, Martha Cook residents aren’t able to swipe into other dining halls, except on Saturday nights when the Martha Cook dining hall isn’t serving dinner. With the new plan, residents wouldn’t be able to swipe into other dining halls at all. 

The new plan would offer a 25-meal supplemental plan for $338.50, so each meal in the supplemental plan would average out to about $13.50 per swipe. This plan has prompted a negative response from some residents currently living in the building. One of them, LSA sophomore Salisha Baranwal, said she thinks this change further restricts an already-constrained dining hall plan.

“Usually the dining hall is open to suggestions but next year, they are cutting back their already super short hours to absolutely nothing on Saturdays — the dining hall won’t even be open at all,” Baranwal said. “Already so many people are complaining about hours being super short.”

In an email to The Daily, Deborah Jansen, a member of the Martha Cook Board of Governors, referenced the budget in discussing the cut in hours.

“We are not providing meal service on Saturdays as the budget from Dining to provide that service exceeds the amount received in room and board fees,” Jansen wrote.

According to Martha Cook residents, flyers sent out said changing the dining hall plan will adjust rates for rooms in Martha Cook. The single rooms will all be moved to the deluxe single room rate, and the rates for double rooms will be reduced. 

LSA freshman Emilia O’Brien, another Martha Cook resident, commented on the financial burden of living in Martha Cook and potentially having to buy food from other places every Saturday.

“I think the goal, in general, is to not have anyone turned away from Martha Cook because they cannot afford to buy food on Saturdays or they cannot afford the increase in the price of living here versus another dorm,” O’Brien said. “I think that is just another challenge for residents who want to live here but don’t have the financial means.”

The residents The Daily spoke to have suggested alternatives such as swipes into other dining halls included in the basic plan, meals on Saturday game days and basic unprepared food such as cereal or salad being available for students on Saturdays. 

According to Baranwal, the Martha Cook dining hall is already limited, and this new dining hall plan could be an issue for more than just lower-income students. 

“I know one of my friends has to UberEat or Grubhub her meal every Saturday because her foot is broken and she can’t walk anywhere,” Baranwal said.

Reporter Isabella Preissle can be reached at ivp@umich.edu


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