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ASUA Notebook 10/12/2022: Meal plans are on the table for discussion

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Jasmine Ma
Want an inside look at the University of Arizona’s student government? Read the Daily Wildcat’s Associated Students of the University of Arizona notebooks, which recap the ASUA Senate’s weekly meetings.

Lack of representation on a waiver committee for mandatory meal plans led to a long-winded back and forth between Associated Students of the University of Arizona senators at the most recent meeting. 

Currently, ASUA has representatives serving on the waiver committee to voice input on how to best support students who may be unable to afford mandatory meal plans after the University of Arizona announced them for all incoming freshmen. The ASUA meeting had multiple discussions on how best to represent the student body in these conversations, specifically minority groups on campus. 

ASUA will draft a letter with demands and resolutions to the current decisions around meal plans, similar to that of the one ASUA made for the #WhyIRide campaign. 

College of Fine Arts Senator John (Jack) Haskins attended the meeting held for this committee on Oct. 12. Haskins said the committee and letter will outline the need for meal plan waivers, specifically $0 waivers. He also noted there has to be a careful line being drawn on the definition of possible scholarships to fund portions of the meal plan so the student population wouldn’t be harmed. 

“We need a coalition of people with a shared consensus of what we need to accomplish,” Haskins said. He went on to say he wasn’t confident all of the goals ASUA have to remedy structural issues within how the Student Unions are operated can be addressed this year. 

Another thing the letter hopes to address is the possibility of Pell Grant recipients automatically being enrolled to receive waivers or scholarships rather than dealing with filling out applications. 

“We gotta keep the pressure on so that students aren’t forced to be jumping through all these hoops and handling all this administrative work that they shouldn’t be forced to,” Haskins said. 

One of the other concerns brought up was making sure Tucson residents and low-income students interested in attending the UA wouldn’t be deterred by the cost of meal plans. “It feels like a breach of that social contract with our community,” Haskins said.

ASUA, the student government at the University of Arizona, has a meeting on Wednesday, Oct 12. They talked about mandatory meal plans and inequalities on campus.
ASUA, the student government at the University of Arizona, has a meeting on Wednesday, Oct 12. They talked about mandatory meal plans and inequalities on campus.

ASUA Executive Vice President, Nico Nieri-Lang, opened the floor for senators to discuss the issue which led to a tenuous debate about the representation serving on the committee. 

“I have not been a fan of the lack of transparency by the Student Union and the lack of inclusiveness of critical groups in this conversation and in this planning process,” ASUA President Patrick Robles said. 

Robles had hoped to create a sub-committee to serve on the waiver committee with representatives from cultural and religious groups on campus. After conversations with these communities, many declined and did not want to be part of the meal plan conversation so late in the process and wanted to be included at the beginning by the faculty. 

“[The cultural resource centers] opinion is not taken into consideration or their opinion is taken so late in the process,” Senator-at-large Lady Dorothy Elli said. “It comes off with the impression [that] we don’t really care what you have to say.” 

Some senate members were in favor of withdrawing from the committee in light of how marginalized student voices were not included in the conversation. Others were hesitant to lose what sway ASUA does have in the conversation about meal plans and a chance to represent student needs and voices by withdrawing. 

“We need to figure out a way to at least get student opinions, especially ones from communities that are most impacted by this on the table because if we don’t there’s gonna be no chance,” College of Science Senator Carly Snell said. 

Before the meeting was adjourned, ASUA senators voted and passed the addition of plans to withdraw from the committee to the letter if demands and resolutions were ignored or not met. 

Honorable Mentions: 

Robles will be visiting the White House to be part of a discussion with Vice President Kamala Harris and other university student body presidents about how to handle the current issue of abortion care.

The #WhyIRide campaign is still in motion and a Qualtrics survey, created by Senator-at-large Lucas Forray, discussed in previous meetings will be sent out to the student body soon. 

A survey about meal plans was distributed to UA freshmen living in the dorms and had 115 respondents. 


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