Last week, the New Jersey Assembly passed a bill which would no longer require students to purchase a meal plan. The bill was passed 53-17, with three absent. Though the bill is passed, it still awaits approval from Governor Chris Christie before any progress can be made. Ramapo students have generally reacted favorably to the bill.
“It’s great that students might have the option to get a meal plan or not,” junior Marcus Miles said. “It’s going to help a lot of people save money, but personally, I will still buy a meal plan next year.”
In recent years, students who live on campus in New Jersey colleges and universities have been forced to purchase a meal plan. Unused meal swipes or money put toward meal plans have never been refunded to students, and this applies to most places of higher education in New Jersey. With this new bill (A2811) passed, students may soon have the option of whether or not to purchase a meal plan.
“There are good studies that have been done that show that students who eat healthy and have meal plans, like the ones that our institutions provide, do better academically,” said Michael Klein, executive director of the New Jersey Association of State Colleges and Universities, to nj.com. “To give them from the get go just a debit card and say here you go, feed yourself as you see fit, what the studies show is students need more guidance when it comes to nutrition. That’s what these meal plans are all about.”
However, junior Kimani Murphy disagrees.
“I hope the bill passes because it might force the school into giving everyone higher quality food, because Birch and Pavilion need the students to buy their food,” said Murphy. “If not, we can keep the money we just saved and use it elsewhere.”
The bill will apply to Ramapo College, along with all other colleges and universities in New Jersey, with the exception of Princeton. According to Assemblyman Joseph Cryan, the bill’s sponsor, Princeton was overlooked due to the school’s graduation rate and because they offer low income students free tuition. Many students who have already heard about the bill are thrilled.
The Assembly has helped pass six other bills that also need to be approved by Christie. All passed bills are in favor of helping college students, for example, by lowering tuition prices in New Jersey.
One of the bills proposes keeping the rate of tuition that a student pays their freshman year the same for their next three years of college. Another requires four-year private institutions to publish information on their websites about the cost of attendance, graduation rates of admitted students and information on the faculty.
All schools except Princeton would also be required to offer students who are deemed “below the skill level required for success in college-level work” an opportunity to participate in an “intensive college readiness program,” according to Assembly No. 2803, while another bill intends to have the state “conduct an audit of fees charged by all schools,” as stated by nj.com. These bills suggest that New Jersey’s government has realized the costliness of higher education and are making a change to make higher education more accessible.
"I hope everything passes before I graduate," said junior Jordan Edwards. "I would love to have the benefit of making that choice."