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Letter to the Editor: Students of state schools cannot afford mandatory meal plans

On April 4, 2012

Dear Editor.

For the past several weeks, or perhaps even months for those who work in the school offices, there have been rumblings about a new rule for meal plans being mandatory for every student who attends ETSU.

Naturally, this is a matter of great concern for a majority of the school population. ETSU is a state university. The students who attend are not exactly loaded, and can by no means afford the balloon prices of the meal plans - all of which are over $1,000 per year.

I appreciate the staff of the East Tennessean for creating the poll a couple weeks ago asking how many people would approve of this mandatory issue. Needless to say, results were very tipped in opposition.

I don't know the precise statistic; however, I am quite confident in stating that a majority of students take out loans. College is expensive.

If students want a meal plan, then by all means they would have one. The reasoning that meal plans should be made mandatory based on the disappointing numbers of students signing up for them is flimsy at best.

Instead, I believe that it makes much more sense for this to be a money-gaining tactic. It's certainly the easiest.

Let's tilt the board a bit. How expensive is it to run a college? How many things have to be paid off in advance? That's the trick, isn't it? We don't know. Students are kept in the dark about where all their money goes.

This shielding (if I may be so bold as to assume it's in our best interest), I believe is the real problem. Students don't understand the process and become confused, angry and desperate when more and more bills stack on top of one another - and they aren't told why.

"Oh, it's for access to this one thing that will be so convenient for you."

But is it really? Does all of that money (hundreds from each student, thousands in all) go to simply one thing?

Perhaps, as simply students, we'll forever have that flimsy reasoning.

- Stacey Laughlin

Editor's note: For an updated story on the meal plan legislation, see Page 1.

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