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They don't run those, they generally contract them out to Sodexo or similar company. The only reason they are there is because students spend money on them. You should have more of a problem with student free spending ways than with the universities just providing for their habits.

Big problem with this. Particularly with dining plans, many of which don't refund at the end of the term/academic year and are required for the dorms. You want to be thrifty and only spend 600 or the 800 you had this spring? Too bad, you're going to have to splurge the last 200 somehow or you're not getting it back.

I was never rich enough to live on campus with a meal plan. But I lived in apartments provided by the university (UW) and they always had kitchens.

What is a dining plan?

You pay $x,xxx per semester so that your student ID allows entry to any of the institution's dining halls any time during operating hours.

Dining halls typically contain several stations with different kinds of food available at a buffet-style counter, and you can eat as much as you want. Some meal plans count entries; others are unlimited.

The system has its drawbacks, but keep in mind that:

- Dining halls primarily serve students who do not have access to (reasonable) kitchens. Forgoing dining halls would mean increasing the sqft/person ratio of the housing system.

- It is probably best that students with low discretionary income aren't in a position where they feel obligated to skip meals to save money.

- Dining halls are paid for by their customers. If you move to an off campus apartment (or even on-campus apartment-style housing), you are no longer obligated to pay in to the campus dining system.

The biggest offense, to me, is that dining hall systems are usually contracted out to huge corporations like Sodexo and Aramark. Dining plans can average to $12/meal, but the quality is several times worse than what I could buy at a restaurant for $12. My dining halls also employ (generally poor) adults from the neighboring community. While I guess this is nice, it's a little weird that we're the ones eating and they're the ones being served.

I'd much prefer that my university run its own dining halls, employ students to staff them, and not ask us to pay somebody's profit margin.

When you live in a dorm on campus, you are required to buy a meal plan for meals, and they aren't cheap or flexible. This is why I couldn't afford to live in the dorms as an undergrad in America.

So a meal plan is like an subscription to meals? Why don't they sell it normally? How much is each meal with that plan? In our Mensa at the university we pay between 1.50 and 4€ per meal (exclusive drinks).

You don't buy a meal, you buy a quarter/semester of meals. And they are generally priced in the $10/meal range.

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