University piloting Saturday meal plan

The Saturday dinner will take place three times a quarter and accommodate 200 people through reservations.

By Wendy Lee

Updated 10/07/2015: The location of the Saturday Night Social Club is to be announced.

This fall, the University is offering a pilot program to provide free dinners on Saturday nights. The Saturday Night Social Club will occur three times during the quarter and accommodate a maximum of 200 people by reservation only, according to the University’s dining page.

The Social Club is designed to provide some kind of free meal on Saturdays when the dining halls are closed. Each evening will offer “family-style dinners” at two separate times: one at 7 p.m. and one at 9 p.m. The dinner is only free for those currently on a meal plan, while students without a meal plan will be charged $10. The location is to be announced.

Until this year, the University did not offer an option for free Saturday night dining, instead suggesting students use Maroon Dollars to purchase dinner on-campus. The Unlimited Meal Plan includes 100 Maroon Dollars per quarter, the Phoenix Meal Plan includes 150 Maroon Dollars per quarter, and the Apartment Meal Plan includes 200 Maroon Dollars per quarter. 

The pilot program comes after a year of increased advocacy for free dining on Saturday nights. Not all students, however, are certain this is the right way to approach the problem. According to Jessica Law, a member of the Socioeconomic Diversity Alliance (SDA), the new program has its limitations.

“They are only providing dinner on three Saturday evenings, and each dinner is limited to 100 people on a first-come, first-served basis without any priority given to low-income and/or first-generation students who may not be able to afford dinner otherwise,” Law wrote in an e-mail to the SDA. “This is clearly not enough, and we will definitely need to continue to fight for better accommodations and options for students.”

Law says that the SDA will continue to communicate with University administration and the Inter-House Council to discuss the inadequate program. “The University [needs] to sufficiently address the issues that low-income and/or first-generation students face on campus.”

In response, dining officials state that the program was created with the intentions of gauging interest and addressing student needs.

“[The Social Club] is a pilot that UChicago Dining has developed based on feedback from the Dining Advisory Board, student interest surveys, and direct feedback from students and staff,” a dining official wrote in an e-mail. “We welcome the feedback about the pilot that we’ve already received and look forward to working with students on new ways to best serve our campus community.” 

The first Saturday Night Club dinner will take place on Saturday, October 17th at 7 p.m. The location is still being finalized, and anyone who registers will receive a confirmation email with details.