ASUCR announces the implementation of a commuter meal plan

One day before the R’Gear reveal, ASUCR senators voted to allocate $2,900 to purchasing 300 lab coats. 250 of these lab coats will be given to the coordinators of the CNAS Research Expo, being hosted by ASUCR this May, and 50 are designated for either a giveaway or included with scholarships. These allocations were approved unanimously, 11-0-0.

During ex-officio reports, Tamara Mustafa, a representative for the Middle Eastern Student Center (MESC), informed the senate of the upcoming Middle Eastern (ME) Week, a week of events hosted by the MESC to educate students on and promote Middle Eastern culture. “We have music, food, performances, workshops and it’s all cultural, it’s all fun and everyone is encouraged to come,” said Mustafa. ME Week is happening this week from Monday, April 16 to Thursday, April 19.

Shortly thereafter, CNAS Senator Matt Shashaty used senate reports to express his desire to work with Assistant Vice Chancellor of Auxiliary Services Andy Plumley to advertise the commuter meal plan expected to begin this fall 2018.

CHASS Senator Roy Tongilava elaborated on this program which is currently still being finalized at the administrative level.

UCR currently only offers meal plans to students living on campus, but according to Tongilava, would provide commuters an option of purchasing a meal plan similar to the existing ones through the new program. “Essentially, the commuter meal plan would offer a number of swipes that could be used in our residential restaurants, and I am hoping different dining dollar package options as well,” wrote Tongilava in an email sent to The Highlander on Saturday. Those eligible would be able to log on to their Banner account to purchase the meal plan.

Tongilava said that this idea was conceived during a meeting with directors of UCR Dining, Hospitality and Retail Services back in October where he and a few students pitched the idea of a commuter meal plan. According to Tongilava, he was told that it was not possible because of overcrowding and other financial reasons. “That’s when I decided to take it to the next level and reach out to work with the Assistant Vice Chancellor of Auxiliary Services, Andy Plumley,” since Plumley oversees the campus’ planning and development. Tongilava said that Plumley has been a receptive advocate for students struggling with food insecurity.  

“Over the last couple of months, I have met with him regarding various projects with the commuter meal plan being the main one and without his help I do not think this initiative would have come to light,” wrote Tongilava in the email.

Tongilava shared that he shared that he struggled with expenses during his second year at UCR, during which he lived off campus. UCR has a 62 percent food insecurity rate and Tongilava stated that he had to decide between buying food and textbooks. He believes many students struggle with the same tough decisions. “I know a lot of students share a similar experience, and this meal plan is for them … (the meal plan) is a convenience all students should posses, and I hope students take advantage of it.”

Additionally at the meeting, Executive Vice President Carisha Moore announced her plans to overhaul the senate internship program. She cited current interns feeling a lack of connection to the senators they were assigned to and not getting enough work to do. “The biggest issue they saw is not getting a rewarding experience with their senator,” stated Moore at the meeting, “I find that to be an extremely huge issue when it comes to you (the senate) as leaders.”

Moore did not provide comment to The Highlander before time of print regarding the overhaul.

The meeting adjourned at 7:30 p.m. The next meeting will be held in the senate chambers, HUB 221, this Wednesday, April 18.

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