Charter cuts shared meal plan numbers
The number of shared meal plans offered at Charter Club will decrease from 30 to 17 after the administration requested that the club pay the University three times the amount it did last year per shared meal plan.
Charter will offer five of those plans to rising juniors and 12 to rising seniors.
The nine other eating clubs, however, will not substantially alter their financial contracts with the University. Most have indicated they will keep the same number of shared meal plans that they offered last year.
Executive Vice President Mark Burstein said that when the University negotiated how much each club would contribute per shared meal plan last year, “one club was an outlier.” He declined to name that club, citing the eating clubs’ request to keep their negotiations with the University private.
Burstein also said that the University wanted a “standardization” of the amount each club was paying per shared meal plan because it would be more equitable.
“Nine out of the 10 eating clubs agreed to a financial agreement ... for shared meal plans that was in a relatively narrow band,” Burstein said.
Conversations with club presidents and graduate board chairs indicated that the University is requesting around $1,000 per shared meal plan.
Negotiating a deal
In an e-mail last night to Charter members obtained by The Daily Princetonian, club president Michael Coolbaugh ’09 explained, “The reason we were forced to cut so many shared plans is because the University forced us to triple the amount of money we were paying them for each shared plan.”
He added that the club was “willing to increase our cost per shared plan by 50% and keep the same number as last year, but [the University] would not have it.”
Coolbaugh said in an e-mail to the ‘Prince’ that though Charter Graduate Board chair Carol Cronheim ’86 made it clear to Burstein that the club would be unable to afford the amount the University was requesting without decreasing the number of shared meal plans offered to its members, Burstein would not agree to Charter’s terms.
Charter’s highest offer for the total cost of its shared meal plan program for 30 members came about $10,000 short of what the University asked for, Coolbaugh explained.
Coolbaugh, who is also the new Interclub Council president, declined to comment on the amount per shared meal plan that Charter is paying to the University.
Bill McCarter ’71, Graduate Board chair for Cap & Gown Club, said, though, that he and some other graduate board chairs were surprised to find out at the last Graduate Interclub Council meeting, held Feb. 21, that “different rates were being paid by different clubs.”
He added that he was contacted the next morning by Matthew Kinsey ’98, who works in Burstein’s office and assured McCarter that the University would try to resolve the issue.
McCarter, who said he was satisfied with his talks with the University, added that he did not negotiate over the rate last year because he believed it to be uniform for all clubs.
Burstein added that an exception had been made for one of the clubs last year so that it would participate in the shared meal plan program, and that this decision had been reversed this year to make the policy fair for the other clubs involved.
Eating clubs have until March 21 to finalize the number of shared meal plans they will offer next year.
Westward on Prospect Avenue
Graduate board chairs and club presidents at Cap, Colonial Club, Cottage Club, Ivy Club, Quadrangle Club, Terrace Club and Tiger Inn have all confirmed that their respective clubs will maintain the same number of shared meal plans that they offered last year. Each of these clubs split the plans evenly between its junior and senior members.
Cap will offer 10 total plans, Colonial 30, Cottage six, Ivy four, Quadrangle 20, Terrace six and TI six.
Cloister Inn president John LaMonaca ’09 and Tower president Stephanie Burset ’09 both said that while they have not yet finalized the number of shared meal plans their clubs will offer this year, their payment contracts with the University have not changed.
Last year, Cloister split 16 plans between juniors and seniors. Burset declined to comment on the number of plans offered by Tower last year.
The University has heavily subsidized shared meal plans to “allow more choice to undergraduates,” Burstein said, adding that “no club is paying for even half the cost of what this meal plan cost the University.”
Charter members feel otherwise, however. Andrew Jones ’10 noted that “Charter was blindsided by the amount the University was going to charge this year. Some advance notice would have been better, and Charter could have prepared its members more adequately.”
“The University that preaches choice gouged us so severely that we had to cut a large number of spots, especially from the sophomore class,” Coolbaugh said in the e-mail to members.
He said in the e-mail that seniors will get more plans because 12 Charter juniors currently with shared meal plans all want to remain in the program, and that it would be unfair to not let them continue to do so.
Though there are only five spots for rising juniors, about 25 Charter sophomores had shown interest so far, Coolbaugh said.
Charter member Evan Jeng ’10 said that while he had planned to enter the draw for shared meal plans, he is not too concerned about the outcome.
“Whatever happens, happens. If I don’t get it, I don’t get it. I’m not too worried about it,” Jeng said.
Burstein noted that “on average, juniors and seniors on shared meal plans are using significantly more than half of their 95 meals in residential colleges,” he said, adding, “I personally expected less.”
The board component of financial aid awards — which can be used toward club or dining hall meal plans — will increase by 4 percent next year to $6,760, Burstein said.
This will allow clubs to increase their membership costs “if they think that’s appropriate” while also making membership costs for juniors in seniors in clubs more affordable, he added.