November 18, 2018 | ° F

Capiatalism apparent in university dining services


Three things that I couldn't love more and can't stand to see people without are capitalism, freedom and food. Being an economics major and a strong admirer of University alumnus Milton Friedman, I feel compelled to write this letter to the University community for the same reasons Friedman wrote his books for the world. Obviously, the University is more proud to have had Paul Robeson, a socialist who favored socialism and government planning, walk its halls rather than Nobel Prize winner Friedman, a man who championed freedom and choice. This is apparent by the buildings like cultural centers, libraries and campus centers that bear Robeson's name while there is nothing at the University — to my knowledge — named after Friedman. Justly so, because in the University's current state Friedman wouldn't want his name attached to anything on campus because it is going in the opposite direction of what he stood for.

We can also find elements of this favoritism in the University's own policies today. Let's take, for example, Rutgers Dining Services. There is no greater or more apparent example against central planning than the University's own Dining Services. First of all, requiring incoming freshmen to have a minimum of 210 meals and not offering them a rollover or refund for unused meals seems wrong, and students should be outraged by a policy like this. Requiring on-campus students to have a meal plan also goes against freedom and choice. Even the ways meal plans are spaced out and priced seems off: they increment by 45 except between 150 and 210, where there is and increment of 60. So, depending on how many meals you will actually eat in a semester, you have to make a choice to either go with the $12 a meal 150 plan and pay lots of money for cafeteria food or the $9 a meal 210 plan and most likely have unused meals at the end of the semester.

The main quarrel I have with Dining Services is not that there are quotas set on freshmen; it's not that the meal plans are unjustly priced and spread out; it's not that they have a monopoly given to them by the University — it's that they don't allow you to roll over your meal swipes. When I finish the semester with a positive balance of 50 meal swipes that magically disappear at the end of the semester, I don't care how you cut or spin the issue. It's absurd. I paid for those meal swipes and when something I pay for gets taken from me it's called theft. I can't see a reason those swipes can't roll over to next semester or be refunded to me. The lack of competition and forcing students to pay money they might not want to for Dining Services every semester seems to have caused the dining halls to be inefficient. If the dining halls have no competition, what drives them to work harder and be better for the students? I can't see a justification for these policies and there must be a change, a change in which students are free to choose, a change in which central planning and inefficiency doesn't screw us every semester.

Aaron Williams is a Rutgers College junior majoring in economics.


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