Freedom of Choice


Every semester at Delta State University (DSU), on-campus freshmen and sophomores pay $1,530 for the All Access meal plan. The plan includes unlimited Block Meals from the Young-Mauldin Cafeteria and $190 FLEX Dollars that students can use at both the cafeteria and the Student Union, which houses Java City, Chick-fil-A, Burger Studio, Burrito Bowl, and the P.O.D. Express. By all accounts, this appears a decent deal. Where else can students get such a variety of food and refreshments for less than $5 a meal on average, three meals a day?


Another option, however, is available to juniors, seniors, and commuter students: the B.Y.O.P., otherwise known as Build Your Own Plan. First, students choose their desired amount of cafeteria Block Meals:

  • 50 (costs $375 total, or $7.50 per meal)
  • 80 (costs $560 total, or $7.00 per meal)
  • 120 (costs $775 total, $6.46 per meal)


Then, they choose their desired amount of FLEX Dollars:

  • $190
  • $400
  • $600


The sum of the two dollar amounts (Block Meals cost and FLEX Dollars) is the total amount students pay per semester for the B.Y.O.P. This is hardly fair to freshmen and sophomores. Even if a student chooses the B.Y.O.P.’s most expensive selections (120 Block Meals and $600 FLEX Dollars), he or she only pays $1,375 a semester, versus $1,530 for the All Access plan, and the latter doesn’t even offer a third of the FLEX Dollars. In other words, on-campus freshmen and sophomores pay $1 to $3 more every meal than juniors, seniors, and commuters; this may not sound like much, but those dollars add up over four and a half months.


Granted, university administration can argue that the All Access plan allows unlimited trips—during certain hours—to the cafeteria, a privilege not covered by the B.Y.O.P. Many students, however, agree that the Student Union, which takes only FLEX Dollars or money out-of-pocket, offers a diverse selection of food and refreshments and that the service hours there are more convenient for irregular schedules. Nevertheless, the All Access plan affords its users the fewest opportunities to eat in the Student Union, and too many freshmen and sophomores are running out of FLEX Dollars and having to choose between not purchasing Student Union meals, or paying with money they already spent on textbooks and increased tuition.


The administration should, therefore, allow all students the option between B.Y.O.P. and the All Access plan. This will ensure students can eat where and what they like, whether that be in the cafeteria or the Student Union. Either way, students will spend money at both locations. Opponents will argue that the university is already taking severe budget cuts and will not be able to afford the $155 average difference in profit, but this can recovered by slightly increasing the offered amounts of B.Y.O.P. FLEX Dollars and the costs of each Block Meal component. If we don’t provide for our freshmen and sophomores now, what’s to say they’ll stick around long enough to become juniors and seniors and receive the privileges that come with that distinction?