Home Opinion Save the Swipes

Save the Swipes

by Kevin Saez
Editorial Cartoon by Melisa Vallovera

Editorial Cartoon by Melisa Vallovera

At the end of each semester, there is a mad rush to the dining halls and retail eateries to use every last swipe and flex dollars before they expire. Any meal plan swipes and flex dollars that are left behind at the end of the spring semester do not carry over to the new school year, causing many students to lose a lot of the money that they invested in their meal plans. With finances so tight for students, who often work several jobs and take out loans to pay for tuition, room and board and books, any penny saved is a penny that can be reinvested in a student’s education.
For this reason, we think it’s time for Montclair State University to start seriously considering refunding unused swipes and flex dollars at the end of the semester, or at the very least, allowing them to be carried over from semester to semester and year to year.
Upon acceptance to Montclair State University, all resident students are forced to purchase a meal plan that can cost as much as $2,355. For resident students with less than 30 credits, there are limitations placed on the meal plans they may purchase. Those students are required to purchases one of the four Red Hawk Unlimited meal plans that promise unlimited meal swipes. For resident students who have more than 30 credits, there is a larger array of options ranging from a 32 Block Plan, providing 32 meal swipes, to the Red Hawk Unlimited Platinum Plus meal plan, providing unlimited meal swipes.
Unlike Red Hawk Dollars, the meal swipes featured in the mandatory resident meal plans do not carry over from year to year, or even semester to semester, as Flex Dollars do. After each semester, students lose all of their remaining prepaid meal swipes. At $6.20 a swipe, the amount of money students lose at the end of the semester quickly adds up. Consequently, on-campus eateries become overcrowded as students try buy enough food so that they do not lose their money in swipes.
Some students have so many blocks and flex dollars left over at the end of the semester that they often donate food that they obtain through swipes to the less fortunate through the “Red Hawk Gives Back” program. We think it’s great that organizations on campus give students the opportunity to put their excess meal plan to good use, yet many students spend a lot of money on their meal plans, and those leftover dollars could be funneled back into their education—to buy books or to pay for tuition—instead of only being able to be donated to prevent waste.
Instead of donating swipes, spending them on cases of chips and soda or having them mysteriously vanish into thin air, it would be nice if Montclair State University would allow swipes to be carried over from semester to semester or even refund students for any unused swipes.
Although it seems unlikely that Montclair State would refund money to their students for swipes, it does not seem like it would take much effort to just extend the life of meal swipes.
It would give students who are residing on campus for the first time the opportunity to feel out the meal plans and allow them to see what is the right meal plan for them. Instead of buying an overwhelming amount of swipes that will later prove to be useless, students would be able to save them for a later occasion.
Residents would rather save their meal swipes at the end of the semester, knowing they will roll over to the next semester, than ending the semester with massive amounts of food just because all of their precious swipes will soon be gone.
Allowing meal swipes to carry over from semester to semester or year to year may prevent waste and students would much rather prefer to save their swipes and their money. With tuition increasing every year, saving meal swipes would be able to save money, waste, and a lot of frustration on the behalf of the students.

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