Operations

Carolina Dining Services racks up $35 million in debt

Following a spree of renovations, UC now charges all students, regardless of whether they have a meal plan or not, nearly $100 each year to help reduce dining services’ debt.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — The debt Carolina Dining Services has sitting on its books is unusual for a University of its size, but that hasn’t stopped administrators from crafting plans to further renovate Lenoir Dining Hall .

Following a spree of massive renovations at Top of Lenoir and the Student Union and the creation of Rams Head Dining Hall between 1998 and 2011, CDS was left with $36 million in debt.

“We’re much more in debt than, say, Florida or Kent State are,” said UNC Chief Financial Officer Matt Fajack, who previously worked at the University of Florida and Kent State University. “From my understanding, we, here, let our services slip farther than others had and decided to do that major renovation.”

CDS is planning another expansion for Lenoir to accommodate heavy lunch traffic, which will add to the group’s current debt, Fajack said. There is no definitive timeline for the expansion, but he said the University is talking to architects to move forward with the project.

To help offset the debt, students pay a $92.10 Student Dining Debt Fee each year, regardless of whether they have a meal plan or live on campus.

“If a furnace breaks down, you have to go out and find a way to pay for it. Same thing for us,” said Mike Freeman, director of auxiliary services.

Student Body Treasurer Brittany Best said using student fees to cover debts is typical for buildings or athletic fields because everyone uses them.

Student government has no options to lower the fee unless the total loan amount changes, Best said.

“We really have no recourse — like lowering or eliminating the fee — when it comes to debt fees because the fee is paying off a loan that has already been taken out,” she said.

Senior Mary Elizabeth Entwistle, who has been on 

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