UW students protest new mandatory meal plan

University of Wisconsin-Madison students staged a demonstration in one of the school’s dining halls in protest of the school’s new mandatory $1,400 dining plan, The Cap Times reports.

Around 100 students marched in Gordon Dining and Event Center last Tuesday, briefly blocking its entrance. Several students read testimonies opposing the plan and others threw dining trays to the floor while chanting “No justice, no peace, this meal plan can’t eat.”

The new dining plan, which takes effect in the fall, requires students living on campus to deposit between $1,400 and $3,000 on their student card to be used exclusively at dining locations on campus. Students pay quarterly and are able to carry over unused funds to the following school year.

Students who oppose the policy say it will place an additional financial burden on low-income students and make it more challenging for those with dietary restrictions to find something to eat.

“This policy makes students with dietary restrictions pay for food they cannot eat, makes students with kosher or halal observances pay for food that goes against their religious code, and takes away student autonomy and agency over what, how, and where they eat,” protest organizer Rena Yehuda Newman told The Cap Times.

Student protesters were also upset that they were not included in the decision-making process.

School officials said that the $1,400 minimum was based on what the average student spends yearly on the school’s a la carte meal program and said that they consulted with the student government before the plan was announced last fall. They said they made additional changes to the plan in December in response to student feedback.

Students will be able to pay for the plan using financial aid, and the school will work with students with dietary restrictions to make sure their needs are met.

"For students with special dietary needs, dining offers halal options at all of its marketplaces as well as a selection of grab-and-go kosher items," campus spokeswoman Meredith McGlone told The Cap Times. "In the rare occurrence that dining is not able to meet the needs of an individual student, there will be a review process for exemption."

Read the full story via host.madison.com.

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