As economic distress becomes a prominent effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, many students are striving to save every penny.
Despite difficult times, University Housing and Dining has not changed their policy to allow Dine In Dollars to roll over to the next academic year or to be given back to students in cash value.
The University should allow unused Dine In Dollars to roll over into the next academic year or offer students a cash refund instead of just absorbing the extra money, especially during the pandemic.
Dine In Dollars are essentially money that can only be spent at various University food markets and coffee shops. Bevo Pay is a form of payment that can be used on and off campus. Bevo Pay rolls over and can be used by students the next academic year, but unused Dine In Dollars do not extend.
Students who live in University housing often buy Dine In Dollars alongside their housing, assuming that they will spend all of the money they put into their Dine In Dollars bank account.
However, as COVID-19 continues to hold UT hostage for much longer than most expected, it seems as though many students would much rather be reimbursed for their unused Dine In Dollars than have them given back to UT.
Journalism freshman Julia Mahavier sees UT’s stinginess regarding Dine In Dollars as a red flag that future students should be wary of.
Mahavier, who got coronavirus earlier this academic year, has experienced both the financial and physical stress COVID-19 puts on freshmen as they grapple with what is and is not worth spending money on. She wishes UT would be more sympathetic toward her and other students in her position.
“I think it’s only fair, like to me, it doesn't make sense why they wouldn't let it roll over,” Mahavier said. “It’s almost like deceiving, and it ends up going back to them anyways because you don’t use it. So it’s almost like, ‘What’s the point then?’”
Mahavier, and many students like her, doesn’t really understand exactly what the University has to gain as far as student relations when it comes to giving students back their money.
“Are you trying to deceive your student body or do you actually mean it when you say that you value us and we’re not just a price tag, we’re a student,” Mahavier said.
Director of Dining Rene Rodriguez said there is no sure way to give students the Dine In Dollars or let them roll over to the next academic year, as Dine In Dollars are a part of the meal plan as a whole, and there is no dollar-to-dollar ratio between U.S. dollars and Dine In Dollars.
According to Rodriguez, the UT meal plan is designed like this in order to compliment the housing experience, and if students do not house with UT next year, they do not get the luxury of having meal plan benefits, such as Dine In Dollars.
However, Bevo Pay rolls over regardless of if a student lives on campus, and students can also request their money back in U.S. dollars when they graduate. Dine In Dollars should follow that example. Additionally, if Dine In Dollars are a luxury given to students with housing, students should still be able to use these dollars if they have housed at UT in the past. Denying them this money is unfair, especially during a financial crisis fueled by a pandemic.
Students paid for these Dine In Dollars, and they should be able to use them or get a refund regardless of their housing.
Gomez is a journalism freshman from Lewisville, Texas.