And the little one said, roll over

Has this ever happened to you? You go out for dinner and have the most mind-blowing feast, and you’re now the happiest person in the world. You feel like nothing – nothing – can diminish your happiness – until you see your student ID. Oh man, now you’re faced with a tough dilemma: You can either (a) go to Snack Bar, even though you don’t really feel like going and you know that it will simply ruin the magic of that mind-blowing feast, or (b) go to sleep restless knowing that you’ve lost those Snack Bar points . . . forever.

Even though I’ve only been at Williams for a few months, I can already attest to the fact that having Snack Bar points that vanish the moment equivalency ends tends to create some tough scenarios. I would like to propose a change to the system: Instead of having our Snack Bar points disappear at the end of the day, we should be allowed to carry them over from meal to meal and from day to day. I believe that not only will this eliminate many of these tough situations, but it will also prove to be a fairer and more convenient system for students.

Students deserve what they pay for, yet there are many situations where the current meal plan forces them to let their money go to waste. If a student dines off-campus, he may not want to use his leftover Snack Bar points that night: He might have had a scrumptious meal and want to savor the aftertaste, or he might be so full that he simply can’t eat for the next three days. But if that student doesn’t spend his Snack Bar points, then he’ll have to sadly watch those points evaporate. In this situation, if those points could be carried over to the next day or to another meal, then that student could go to sleep happily with the knowledge that his Snack Bar points would survive to be used another day. Likewise, if a student leaves campus to visit home or a friend at another college for the weekend, that student shouldn’t be forced to waste the money that he has already spent on buying the meal plan. Instead, that student should be allowed to keep the meals in the form of Snack Bar points and be able to use them once he arrives back on campus.

In addition, many students will enjoy the flexibility that arises from the ability to carry over Snack Bar points. Not everyone has the same schedule nor the same habits. Even though there are many people who enjoy waking up early to go to breakfast, there are many others who would prefer to instead wake up late and trade their breakfast for something else, like a midnight snack. Having points that carry over will accommodate these other students: Students can choose to not have breakfast, thereby keeping their Snack Bar points, which they can then use sometime else. This will be especially helpful to us first-years, who are forced to purchase the full 21-meal plan, even though we might not be willing to wake up early enough for breakfast.

One side benefit of this proposal is that it will likely shorten the huge lines that crop up in Paresky around 1 a.m. If students are able to spend their points just as easily the day after, they won’t be as desperate to use up their points that very day and, thus, they’ll be less inclined to swarm Paresky in the moments before equivalency ends. This will not only save students time from standing in line, but it will also make the entire Snack Bar experience a lot more enjoyable.

Perhaps it’s time to revamp the way our Snack Bar points work. Even though the College does offer different meal plans to provide more flexibility and affordability to students, I believe that more still can be done. The College is already able to keep track of how many meals are left for those students on the 10-meal plan and the five-meal plan on a weekly basis; it shouldn’t be that much harder to keep track of the amount of Snack Bar points a student has left. Ultimately, food is a basic need that the College should be addressing – if students pay for their food, the College should be able to deliver on its commitment beyond such a narrow timeframe. Having Snack Bar points that carry over from meal to meal and from day to day will not only provide students a great deal of convenience but, more importantly, it will make sure that the precious money students spend on their meal plans isn’t needlessly wasted.

Donny Huang ’13 is from Beijing, China. He lives in Sage.