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The popular meal contract system whereby students had the choice of eating 10, 14, or 21 meals a week in college dining halls was a war casualty which has not as yet been rehabilitated. All students except commuters are now required to sign for full board at $11.50 a week. This reduced rate, below the price of $13.65 for meals paid for individually, is made possible by the low average of attendance, only 16 meals per week. The administration argues the fairness of holding the rate down on the ground that those who eat some of their meals out, thereby lowering the average, are those who can afford to pay double.
Although much of the support for reinstatement of the optional system has come from Club men, this is not an altogether accurate appraisal of the situation. An estimated 40 percent of the college introduces a somewhat different consideration, since many of those who do spend weekends at home can not well afford to pa for the meals they do not eat at college. There is a large group also who do not eat all their meals, breakfasts for instance, whose financial condition is not necessarily such that they should pay for them.
When the optional system was in operation before the war, a staff of eighteen was required to sort the slips signed for meals and to bill each student individually for the number of meals he ate ever his contract. Since that time, however, the check-off system has been installed which could deal with contract variations with no increase in labor cost. Record could be kept of the number of meals an individual has eaten in a given week in reference to his contract, and he could pay by coupon for those which exceeded the limit.
Granted there is much to be said for the type of socialism which the compulsary 21 meal contract involves. If an option were to be given for 10 or 14 meal contracts, the rate for the full 21 would have to be raised somewhat is order to lower the rate to any extent for the limited contract basis. But it is not purely a question of those who can afford paying for meals they do not eat in order to help those who cannot afford. Because of the diversity of the groups involved and the position of the administration, a college-wide poll is probably the only accurate method of determining the support which reinstatement of the prewar system would receive. Since the average is as low as 16 meals per week, however, the poll would undoubtedly show a substantial majority in favor of the old arrangement.
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