As of Sept. 17, the student meal plan at NYU Abu Dhabi has been changed from 12 to 14 meal swipes a week. The increase comes as the result of multiple meetings between Student Government, the Dining Committee and administration.
“We shared the students’ concerns with the administration and made a strong case that 17 meals plans are simply not enough,” said Student Government President Farah Shamout.
Factoring in the biweekly Campus Dirhams upload of 330 AED to student accounts, the total amount of meals now comes to 19.5 per week. Leftover meal swipes do not roll over into the following weeks.
Students also received a one-time additional upload of 120 AED on Sept. 17.
With the closure of the West Dining Hall at the beginning of the year, students have complained about crowds, long lines and shortages of food in the East Dining Hall. Since Sept. 2, the university has introduced two new meal options at the West Dining Hall: a Grab & Go and Meal Club Counter.
Student Government and the Dining Taskforce have acted as vehicles to relay student concerns to university administration. Other students, like members of the vegetarian and vegan Student Interest Group Veggie Might, have worked with ADNH in order to advocate for new additions to the university menu.
Efforts at dialogue between students and ADNH have had to address an increased student body and adjustments to the dining budget.
Before the beginning of the fall semester, the meal plan was reduced to 12 meal swipes in an email announcement from Associate Vice Chancellor for Finance and Planning Peter Christensen, who mentioned the larger student body, a changing economy and budget adjustments.
University data collected on students’ eating and spending habits supported the notion that fewer meal swipes would not drastically impact students’ dietary needs.
Previous years have shown a pattern of students being left with surplus amounts of money on their accounts by the end of the year.
Yet some students reacted to the reduced number of meals per week with alarm, pointing to special dietary needs that require three meals per day, as well as the campus’s distance from cheap food sources in the city.
As students began voicing their concerns on university Facebook groups, NYUAD peer support group REACH published a menu of creative options for students dealing with cost constraints. The hashtag #budgetcuts began circulating through student newsfeeds.
At a recent town hall on the new changes, Vice Chancellor Al Bloom emphasized that the university’s budget has in fact experienced an overall increase. Yet individual departments in the university have had to restructure
their funding and roll back on resources offered in previous years.
Zoë Hu is editor-in-chief. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.