Widgets Magazine


Editorial: Allow students to opt out of Stanford Dining meal plans

Stanford Dining provides our campus with a variety of eating options and, for the most part, tries to accommodate students with special dietary concerns. Most students on campus are able to make due within the particular confines of their meal plan and dining options. Even so, some students may still feel unnecessarily restricted by their meal plans, prompting them to ask why students are not afforded greater liberty when it comes to opting out of the meal plan altogether.

A small number of eating associate spots exist which allow students to purchase eating rights at Row houses without having to live on the Row. Otherwise, exemptions from the meal plan are issued for medical or religious reasons only. Both exemptions require an application, the latter being especially lengthy and rigorous. Mirrielees also offers students the option of cooking their own meals and not purchasing a dining plan, but the apartment-style living of the residence does not appeal to everyone.

Even with the alternative dining options available, there is bound to be a small minority of students on campus who, for various reasons of taste, convenience or lifestyle, would prefer to simply opt out of the meal plan altogether in order to buy and prepare their own food. Yet Stanford Dining, despite its accommodation for dietary and religious issues, remains firm in its stance that students cannot simply opt out of the meal plan because they want to opt out. The Editorial Board suggest that, for the coming year, Stanford Dining reevaluate its position and consider granting students an opt out plan based on personal preference.

An opt out option beyond what is currently provided could meet the needs of students with dietary concerns not fully addressed by dining halls, as well as those students who desire greater independence of dining but do not wish to live in Mirrielees. An opt out option would not have to be absolute–perhaps offering a reduced meal plan of five meals a week would suffice, or providing the opt out option for upperclassmen only. The campus community would not be damaged by allowing students to have a broader range of options, and so we would like to see Stanford Dining make an effort to explore these options.

The Editorial Board agrees with Stanford Dining’s statement that mealtimes “play a key role in helping to build a sense of community within a house and in promoting interaction between residents, faculty and guests.” Even so, providing an opt out option could facilitate easier living for students with unique dietary restrictions and students desiring more independence and self-sufficiency.

About Editorial Board

Editorials represent the views of The Stanford Daily, an independent newspaper serving Stanford and the surrounding community. The Daily's Editorial Board consists of President and Editor-in-Chief Victor Xu '17, Executive Editor Will Ferrer '18, Managing Editor of Opinions Michael Gioia '17, Desk Editor of Opinions Jimmy Stephens '17, Senior Staff Writer Kylie Jue '17, Senior Staff Writer Olivia Hummer '17 and Senior Staff Writer Andrew Vogeley '17. To contact the Editorial Board chair, submit an op-ed (limited to 700 words) or submit a letter to the editor (limited to 500 words) at eic@stanforddaily.com.
  • Quinn Slack

    It’s the same as health insurance. You need an individual mandate or else you’ll have free riders. Many students who live in Wilbur (for example) but opt out will frequently sneak into dining and steal meals. With that said, perhaps if Stanford Dining stepped up enforcement of people stealing meals, they could allow more students to opt out. With that as the alternative (and I can’t see any other), I think that the current policy of making it hard (but possible) to opt out is the best.

  • Cardina

    This idea comes up every so often and uniformly goes nowhere. I’m not saying it’s lazy journalism, but it was a bit surprising that no one on the Editorial Board bothered to do even a cursory check of the several times this has come up before and why it never works.