Student Government searches for ways to advance Panther Dining with a swipe card method

Student Government Association (SGA) Sen. Joshua Akinola-King introduced a new meal plan targeting both residents and commuters on a budget. With the help of Panther Dining Director Lenore Musick, Akinola-King said he’s come up with a way to help the busier students grab a quick bite.

SGA is researching ways to implement a new meal plan for students and commuters which would allow students an alternative meal plan to eat at the dining halls. The swipe card method would be different by allowing students to have a max number of times access the dining halls per semester. It provides an alternative option than the 5 and 7-day meal plan. Akinola-King brought this plan up at the Sept. 28 SGA meeting. He is trying to find ways to implement the swipe card method starting 2019 by collecting data to see how many students will use it, and he’s looking into other universities to see what meal plans they have that might work for Georgia State..

Akinola-King’s goal is to kick off a new swipe method where students would have a certain number of times throughout the semester to use their meal card, without having to pay a full meal plan.

Currently, Georgia State only has two meal plans: $3,630 5-day plan that includes breakfast, lunch, dinner and a overnight service Monday through Friday for both semesters. The 7 day plan is $3,832, which is similar to the 5 day meal plan but provides additional brunch and dinner on the weekends. Akinola-King states that applying the swipe card method may benefit both residents and commuter students.

“Just having the ability to purchase a meal plan, but not a full meal plan, would help for those days you’re busy and tired and just want to grab something to eat,” Akinola-King said.

SGA Inquires for a Solution

Akinola sat down with Musick to find out what can be done, and to see if the department would be open to student government ideas.

“She’s very happy to work with me on this, and she is very open and receptive to the whole idea,” Akinola-King said.

“I think it is great that the students have an organization as strong as the SGA to advocate for them. I believe, as with many things, we will need to look at all areas that could be affected and see what the possibilities are,” Musick said.

Musick told Akinola-King that since Panther Dining is still relatively new and insourced by Georgia State, SGA’s proposal must be first approved by the university, as well as the University System of Georgia’s (USG) Board of Regents (BOR).

“Not only are we trying to get it approved at [Georgia State], but now it must go through USG, the Board of Regents, and that kind of thing,” Akinola-King said.

Musick advised Akinola-King that SGA would have to do some research to implement the right meal plan as well to get it passed. She told him to consider other four-year schools that are insourced dinings such as UGA and other universities.

“In terms of what we need to look at, we need to find schools that are doing the same thing. We want to look at schools that are insourced operated like UGA, Southern, West Georgia, Kennesaw. This school is already doing this and USG has already approved this; this is something we can do as opposed to coming out of left field to something that’s completely random,” Akinola-King said.

Other ways Akinola-King is researching is by seeing if students might be interested in the swipe card method, which student would utilize it more a commuter or a resident, and trying to see how more cost efficient the new method would be.

“It’s always hard to measure just how cost-effective a swipe card method would be compared to an unlimited meal plan or using PantherCash to dine. Just like those who dine with us using PantherCash, a swipe method would require a cashier to be present to process the swiping of the card,” Galonczyk the public specialist said.

A couple students around campus who are residents and commuters have mixed responses about the swipe card method that Anikola-King is trying to come up with.

“Personally, I wouldn’t care for it, to be honest. I’m a commuter student I see it kind of pointless to be honest. [The meal plan] just needs to stick to the people who live in housing honestly, because as commuters, we just stay on the main campus,” Georgia State senior commuter Keyona Mosely said..

“For the overall student body, I think it’s beneficial. Let’s say you have off-campus students who live at 112 or friends that commute. For them to have that option to swipe their Panther card and get into the dining hall to eat, I think that’s actually smarter,” Adrine Mauldin, a Georgia State resident, said.

Students feel that the meal plan may benefit upperclassmen more due to them being constantly busy due to having more of a class workload, working jobs, having activities and being active. They don’t have time to come to the dining hall and eat all the time. This gives them a chance to eat more cost-effectively without having to choose from the 5-days or 7-day meal plan they might only use once every few days.

“I’m paying all this money for this for a 7-day meal plan or a 5-day meal plan, and I’m not able to really utilize it; it’s more of a convenience than it is like a cost-effective method. I’m paying this much money, and I’m not using it to its full capabilities,” Georgia State student Kudzai Mundava said.

Administration Gives Advice

The Director of Dining halls, the public relations specialist and SGA must go through numerous variables to consider getting the swipe card method passed. Musick is happy to assist and hear any suggestions from the students and the student body.

The dining hall officials must do research to see if this is the right fit for students. This will include figuring out if students will use this meal plan, if the meal plan will benefit mainly the commuters or the residents, and the requirement to get this meal plan passed. Stating that the meal plan may be more feasible or cost efficient is hard to say.

“Start off by determining what type of swipe card the students are interested in. Ask questions like the following: Are they residential with a kitchen? Are they mostly commuters? Who can purchase what plans and how do you tell the difference? Is there a similar plan already in place with another insourced university? It would depend on the number of participants, types of plans and amount of actual usage,” Musick said.

SGA and the Director of Dining Halls are still in researching phase with the swipe card method.