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For years, students have been unhappy with the current on-campus dining system. While there are many issues that could be raised regarding meal plans, eating options, etc., one point of controversy seems surprisingly easy to fix.

In the current dining system, students who have meal plans have four meal periods on weekdays and three meal periods on weekends. Students may only use a maximum of one meal block per meal period, which is problematic for several reasons. If students do not use their blocks on an even, day-by-day basis, their blocks pile up toward the end of the two-week dining period, and this eventually results in the students’ having more blocks remaining than meal periods in which to use them. This results in students’ losing their leftover blocks at the end of the two-week period, when they might have used them at some other time if they had been able to — and thus would have avoided losing their money.

In addition, on many occasions, students cannot adequately plan their own meal times. By this I mean that if a student gets hungry twice within a given meal period, the student cannot use another meal block until the next meal period commences. This is problematic because students’ schedules are widely varied, and sometimes it is impossible to fit one’s eating schedule into the time frames set by the meal periods.

Additionally, not being able to use multiple blocks in a meal period prevents students from using their blocks to pay for guests on campus, as they are able to do at many other universities. Students are either forced to use their DineX in these situations, which they may have been saving for some other time, or else the guests must pay for their own meals. Alternatively, students simply take their guests to eat off campus and, in doing so, deprive Carnegie Mellon Dining Services of a potential source of business.

This situation can be fixed by changing the system to one that limits daily blocks rather than blocks per meal period. A limit of five meal blocks per day would be easy to implement and would allow students to more effectively manage their meal plans and eliminate wasted blocks.

Students would also be able to plan their daily eating habits around their own schedules and could use extra blocks to pay for their guests. This would encourage students to bring guests to eat on campus, which would in turn support the Carnegie Mellon dining system.

Want to help change the current meal block system? Then sign our petition online at or in person at the tables outside of Doherty Hall on Tuesday, April 21 between noon and 6 p.m.

Carmen Easterwood
First-year architecture major