Residence meal plans used to have students totally cheesed. PHOTO: JAKE SCOTT
Residence meal plans used to have students totally cheesed.

Photo: Jake Scott

Meal plan cash will carry over, finally

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By Sarah Krichel

Ryerson Eats has new options this April for students with leftover meal plan funds on their OneCards, said Janice Winton, vice president of administration and finance.

The meal plan reform occurred due to students losing any money not spent by the end of the year. The funds would go straight to food services in previous years.

Ryerson student Jonathan Dacosta started a Change.org petition to reform the program. As of April 1, Ryerson will give students four options as for their remaining meal plan funds such as carryovers and refunds.

“The first [option] is you do nothing; it just gets carried over into the next year,” Winton said. “So if you had $50 left in your meal plan at the end of April, it would show up next year on your meal card for the same amount.”

“The second option is you can request a transfer of funds to go to your RAMSS account,” Winton said.

There is a 20 per cent cap of a student’s original meal plan amount that can go to their RAMSS account, which can go toward any other payment they may owe, like tuition or residence, according to Winton. Anything over that 20 per cent goes into next year’s meal plan, she said.

“If you have a credit, you can issue an actual refund or cheque, but we’re trying to eliminate issuing thousands of small cheques,” Winton said. There will be an administrative fee of five per cent for anything under 20 per cent.

The third option is to transfer the residual funds to your Campus Fund, also with the same 20 per cent cap, according to Winton. Students can use this fund toward photocopying, laser printing, campus store purchases, in vending machines and at food locations. The administrative fee of five per cent also applies to this option.

The fourth option allows students to choose to make a donation of the remaining amount to go toward emergency foods for students, Winton said. There is no fee in that option.

Previously, there was a misunderstanding between Ryerson and the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) regarding the legality of refunding student meal plan money to students in federal taxation law.

The CRA clarified there are no prohibitions against refunding students.

“The CRA is not responsible for regulating university meal plans, including policies relating to refunds, rollovers or donations,” said Paul Murphy of the CRA’s media relations via email. Murphy added that the CRA is not in a position to comment on further changes being made to meal plans by any university.

Winton said Ryerson looked into regulations, finding no conflicts with the new system and CRA laws.

Most Ontario universities have a rollover process of leftover funds available, said Winton. Ryerson’s new meal plan system has been updated to have the same cap system as other universities.

Dacosta’s petition also addressed the costliness of even the cheapest meal plan. Pricing for meal plans has yet to be reviewed for next year, according to Winton.

“We listened, we heard what they asked, we looked into it,” said Melissa Yu, Ryerson Eats’ communication and administrative coordinator.

“So far the feedback has been very good. Most residents have been informed about it through their RA,” she said. “I think people are really pleased that there are several options for them.”

Ryerson interim president Mohamed Lachemi said he is happy to share the results of Ryerson putting the complaints into consideration.

“We took those concerns very seriously,” Lachemi said.

Winton said that there has been no discussion thus far regarding the amount of places on campus that permit OneCard payments.

But there is a survey going out in a few weeks targetting residence students regarding food on campus, said Yu.

“It’s a thing we try to do every few years,” she said. “Feedback is an important part of our process and how we inform our operations year over year.”

The process will be available  to students online. Students will decide where remaining funds will go between April 1 and May 15. After that, they’ll default to the first option of rolling over to next year’s meal plan.

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