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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Off-campus dining

Published: January 27, 2006
Section: Opinions

Brandeis University is plagued by a monopolistic, sub-par cafeteria system that constrains the choices of its students and staff under the guise of being healthy. Luckily, Waltham is home to a plethora of high-quality ethnic restaurants that most college towns could only dream of. However, the Brandeis University administration seems unable to successfully incorporate Walthams rich restaurants into the campus community. By ignoring Walthams assets and failing to market the strengths of the surrounding community, the University and its students are negatively impacted.
Many other colleges offer an off-campus meal plan, which either compliments or replaces the traditional meal-plan that Brandeis students are used to having. For example, students at UMASS-Amherst can elect to have part or their entire meal-plan replaced by an off-campus meal plan. Students can swipe their meal cards at many of the restaurants in the surrounding area and have $6.15 of every meal paid for, with the remaining balance paid for by cash or credit card, which has resulted in an explosion of cheap, quality eateries in the surrounding towns.

Many restaurants in Waltham currently accept WhoCash as a means of currency, however this is grossly inadequate. Most students never use all their meal points every semester and feel less inclined to eat out, as they do not want to end the semester with leftover points. Therefore, Brandeis should work to amend the current meal plans so that students can either use a designated percentage of their points off-campus, trade leftover points for off-campus meal points, or allow students to purchase off-campus meal points at the beginning of every semester. The groundwork for this plans success are already in place: Brandeis began running a daytime Waltham shuttle this semester and many restaurants are already accustomed to dealing with WhoCash, assuring a smooth transition to the adoption of an off-campus meal plan for both Waltham and Brandeis students.

Both Brandeis University and Waltham could benefit from such a program. Primarily, this would inject thousands of dollars into Walthams economy and help encourage continued retail growth on Moody and Main Streets. Additionally, Brandeis could begin to market the asset of a vibrant city coupled with the quality-driven meal plan to prospective freshman. Moreover, a plan that allows for school-sponsored off-campus dining would decrease the rampant criticism of the dining options that Brandeis and Aramark offer while increasing the students overall enjoyment of both the Brandeis and Waltham Community. If the Brandeis administration truly cares about the well being of the students and their relations with the Waltham Community, they will work towards making off-campus dining an incorporated reality for the Brandeis Community.