Shawn Olstein ’22
On Nov. 15, the Student Government Association (SGA) met with Dean of Student Life and Director of The Bantam Network Jody Goodman and Director of Housing Operations Susan Salisbury to discuss the living situation of students on campus over winter break.
This meeting came in response to calls by students to raise the weekly meal stipend for students staying on campus. Originally, the College had planned to provide these students with a biweekly stipend of $140. This weekly stipend was made based on the USDA’s food plan – cost of food at home program. The $140 amount was the moderate cost plan. This was also the meal plan used over summer break; however, several students claimed the stipend was not enough.
Following these concerns, the College increased the weekly food stipend to $190. In an email sent on Nov. 18, Dean Goodman told SGA President Giovanni Jones that “After sharing the concerns and discussions with the Business Office and VP Joe [sic], we agreed to raise the weekly amount.” The total cost of this new plan for meal stipends is approximately $130,000. With the help of the Business Office, the Deans were able to identify a few funds from which the College can pull to contribute $105,000 to help cover the cost of this new plan.
The remaining money will be donated by the SGA from the monies available in the Student Activities Fee. Dean Goodman also outlined the school’s plan to distribute the funds to students. For the weeks of Nov. 21 and Nov. 28, the school will distribute funds in the form of a gift card in the amount of $90. For the Months of December and January the school will hand out checks in the amount of $360. From Jan. 30 to Feb. 13, the College will will distribute bi-weekly checks in the amount of $180.
The pricing of the expanded weekly stipends stems from the number of students who will be staying on campus over the winter. There will be 96 students staying on campus for the entire winter term. 35 students will be on campus between Nov. 21 to Dec. 12. Finally, 20 students will be on campus between Dec. 13 to Dec. 24.
While the increased stipend does address many students concerns, some concerns remained unanswered. Several students are concerned about the lack of adequate transportation to buy food, and the risk of catching COVID-19 while in a crowded store. The school has stated that it will look into funding a shuttle for students who need to buy groceries, though did not disclose the details of the timing and frequency of this shuttle.