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University officially announces new upperclass student dining pilot

<h6>Courtesy of Abby de Riel&nbsp;</h6>
Courtesy of Abby de Riel 

The University launched a website on Thursday, Nov. 10, providing students with information and updates about the new upperclass dining pilot program, which is set to be launched this coming spring semester.

The dining pilot was officially announced in an email by Chris Burkmar of Campus Life and Maureen McWhirter of University Services. The announcement comes on the heels of over a month of conversations amid students about the pilot after The Daily Princetonian reported in late September that the University was considering introducing such a program.

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Some student leaders, from USG, co-ops, and the Interclub Council (ICC), introduced an alternative upperclass dining proposal to the one being put forward by administrators, and the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) had called on Nassau Hall to make public the details of the plan as students voiced concerns about the program at a USG-led assembly.

According to the new University webpage, the pilot aims to promote “fluidity in the dining program.” Students who participate will be able to eat “five flexible meals” at any dining institution on campus, including eating clubs, co-ops, and dining halls. The goal is to have more than 10 percent of upperclassmen participate in the program. 

The updated policy will also allow students to use these flexible meals at late meal, all campus cafés, and concession stands at athletic events. Additionally, eating clubs and co-ops will be able to set individual criteria and meal limits, according to the webpage.

“The purpose of the dining pilot website is to serve as a resource,” wrote Deputy University Spokesperson Michael Hotchkiss in an email to the ‘Prince.’ “In the short term, to confirm why we’re doing a pilot and to be a central location for the working group to share details during the pilot — and afterwards, when findings following the pilot are known.” 

Dillion Gallagher ’23, the U-Councillor and CPUC Executive Committee Representative of the Undergraduate Student Government (USG), criticized the lack of student input in developing the program. 

“The whole process [of the dining pilot] lacks transparency,” Gallagher said in an email to the ‘Prince.’ “Even after adding more student representation, those students are essentially sworn to secrecy about the discussions of the working group, and how much the pilot’s design is actually impacted by student input is unknown.”

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Gallagher said he plans to introduce an alternative committee to oversee the pilot. 

“Some friends and I will be introducing a resolution at this Sunday’s USG meeting to create an ad hoc committee completely student-run that can not only analyze the impacts and plans of this pilot but also start a larger, lasting conversation about dining and social life on campus,” he said.

The dining pilot will be free to students who participate. The new dining pilot website states that the University will not make permanent changes — beyond a pilot — to dining options until Fall 2024 at the earliest and that the “University does not know what, if any, financial impact there would be for students.”

The website also stated that “No Contact and No Communication Orders will continue to apply to students participating in the pilot program.”

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The success of the pilot will be determined through “usage data, surveys, and other qualitative data,” as well as information provided by eating clubs and co-ops, according to the website.

The University will continue to update the website with more information as the semester goes on. Once the pilot is complete, the website will be updated with information about the program’s results.

Correction: A previous version of this article stated that Dillon Gallagher was the USG Chief of Staff, his official titles are U-Councillor and CPUC Executive Committee Representative. The ‘Prince’ regrets this error. 

Laura Robertson is a staff news writer for the ‘Prince.’ Please direct any corrections requests to corrections@dailyprincetonian.com.

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