If you’ve lived on campus, chances are you’ve made a Wendy’s run, swiping your UT ID to use your Bevo Pay as payment. Many residents enjoy the convenience of having $200 in Bevo Pay and $600 in Dine In Dollars at their disposal. Both preset amounts of Bevo Pay — valid at a selection of on- and off-campus vendors — and Dine In Dollars — only valid at University Housing and Dining spots — are included in the default on-campus housing contract.
UHD currently offers two meal plans for its residents — the unlimited meal plan and the flex meal plan. In 2019, UHD introduced unlimited meal swipes to the unlimited plan at certain dining halls in order to give students more flexibility. But the unlimited meal plan, the more affordable of the two, still requires residents to pay the $800 in Dine in Dollars and Bevo Pay.
“Going to an unlimited meal plan was a big move towards making living more affordable for students,” said Adriana Rojas, director of business services for UHD. “We’re always going to strive for what the student needs.”
However, because the default on-campus meal plan includes unlimited visits to UHD’s buffet-style dining halls, J2 and Kins Dining, the extra $800 in dining currency can be an unnecessary expense.
The high cost of tuition, rent and classroom materials make college an expensive endeavor for many students, and the high cost of on-campus living can be an extra burden. In order to ensure that all students can afford living on campus, UHD should give its residents the choice to reduce or opt out of these additional food costs.
For many residents, Dine In Dollars and Bevo Pay provide a great service. They offer students convenience and an easy way to ration their spending. Many on-campus residents prefer the wide array of dining options instead of being limited to just one or two dining halls.
However, not all students consider these funds necessary to their living experience.
“The current required Dine In Dollars and Bevo Bucks are unnecessary to me,” government senior Destiny Ford said. “Making the funds optional would take stress off of some families.”
By evaluating the food needs of thousands of students with a one-size-fits-all approach, UHD fails to adequately consider the different financial situations of students. Flexibility must be provided in order to ensure that each student has a meal plan that is catered to their own dietary and spending habits.
UHD should keep the current $800 as the default but allow students and families to increase or decrease this amount as they see fit.
“(The extra spending) was a bit too high for me since we already had unlimited dining,” said Amaya Ngo, health and society studies junior.
Providing students the option to increase or decrease their Dine In Dollars and Bevo Pay allows students of all incomes to customize their meal plan. Those who enjoy the program can add more funds throughout the year while residents who tend to spend less can make reductions according to their own habits.
Because the web infrastructure residents use to add Dine In Dollars and Bevo Pay already exists, UHD could easily implement this change.
UHD should add fields to the website where residents can type in the dollar amount of Dine In Dollars and Bevo Pay they would like to purchase during the room selection process. This would allow students to cut unnecessary dining costs.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, exact operating plans for the fall are still uncertain. In order to create a more affordable college experience for its on-campus residents, University Housing and Dining must provide individual students the opportunity to adjust the amount of Dine In Dollars and Bevo Pay that they can purchase to fit their own needs.
Lee is a civil engineering junior from Plano, Texas.