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Faced with boycott, King’s drops half of holiday meal plan costs

KSU claims victory but says work is still to be done.

With files from Dylan Taylor.

King’s will reimburse students stuck in residence over the holidays for half the cost of the mandatory meal plans after students threatened to boycott fees.

Dean of Students Katie Merwin announced in an email Wednesday that fees would be halved in response to feedback from students. 

“We are committed to sharing your feedback and working with Chartwells to address your quality concerns. That said, we appreciate that Chartwells were working unexpectedly over the break, and in less-than-optimal conditions,” wrote Merwin. “The meals were not the same offerings as are available through the term.”

The meal plan had originally cost students $490 for three meals a day, which works out to $35 a day over the 14 day period of Dec. 21 to Jan. 4. It will now cost them $245. King’s did not allow students to opt out of the meal plan.

At a King’s Students Union meeting Sunday night, Luke Baumgart and other students who stayed in residence complained Prince Hall gave them often inedible food that wasn’t compatible with allergies or dietary restrictions.

“No one would eat that given the choice,” said Baumgart in the meeting.

Most KSU councillors and executives expressed shock that this was the first they had heard of this.

After over an hour of debate of how it would look, the KSU adopted a mandate for a boycott. The boycott would call on students to withhold this semester’s fees until the university agreed to reimburse students for the meal plans. The students said the action needed to be serious, but they would like things to end without much of a fight. 

The KSU announced on social media Thursday they are calling off the fee boycott, calling this “still a victory.”

While they say the conditions in residence over the break were “unacceptable”, KSU Residence Representative Kailen Crosson thinks this is a good change.

“It’s a nice sign that the university acknowledges what happened wasn’t okay,” said Crosson. “For now I think we’re in a good spot.”

The KSU initially brought up these concerns at a meeting with Merwin and King’s Vice-President Peter O’Brien on Monday. KSU External Vice-President Hope Moon said in an interview that Merwin was “blindsided to hear that this was taking place.”

Merwin was contacted for comment but was not reachable by time of publication.

By David J. Shuman

David is a second-year journalism student at King's, is engagement/news editor of The Watch, and a copy editor of The Pigeon. He writes on student politics, campus happenings, and school news. 

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