After discussing an informal proposition to combine Claremont Cash and Board Plus (“Flex”) last month, the Associated Students of Pomona College (ASPC) Senate has decided to table the debate until they receive a more formal proposal to work with.
Wanting to cut down on the cost of the meal plan at Pomona, Director of Campus Planning and Maintenance Bob Robinson came up with the idea to rework the Flex system. He thought it would be beneficial to remove the built-in Flex from the student meal plans and replace it with a program more akin to Claremont Cash.
Currently, students can choose from a selection of meal plans that range from $4,486 to $5,514 per semester and include 12 to 16 meals in addition to either $160 or $240 of Flex dollars. Students can use Flex to purchase food at the Coop Fountain or Coop Store, the Sagehen Café, dining halls, and other establishments across the 5Cs.
If Robinson’s idea were implemented, students could purchase any amount of Flex for their account instead of paying for the predetermined quantity included in the meal plan. However, he hasn’t made a formal proposal to the ASPC Senate, and the idea is still in its preliminary stages.
On Oct. 25, ASPC Vice President of Campus Activities Frank Langan PO ’11 introduced a motion to the Senate to take a stand against doing away with Flex dollars. The Senate entered into a formal debate on the issue but decided to table the discussion until it faced a more concrete proposal.
Langan believes students cherish the Flex system and that the change wouldn’t be well received. His motion for the Senate to strongly oppose the attempt to remove Flex from the meal plan was meant to let the college know the students would not react well to the new proposal.
“I don’t think they’re going to be able to pull it off,” Langan said. “They’re not looking to go down this path anymore.”
Part of Langan’s reasoning for opposing the removal of built-in Flex is that Flex dollars spent at spots like the Coop Fountain and Coop Store eventually go back to benefit the student body. Since those operations are owned by ASPC, their profits belong to the ASPC general fund that sponsors clubs, parties, and other student activities. If students begin to spend less Flex at the Coop, those lost profits will never make their way back to Pomona’s students, Langan said.
Still, Robinson sees merit in at least investigating the idea more fully.
“I think it’s worth a conversation,” he said. “When someone asks, ‘Why do we do things?’ and the answer is ‘That’s the way it’s always been,’ then maybe it’s worth taking another look at.”
According to Robinson, the idea needs a lot more research before it could become a reality. The change could affect numerous departments at the college, from Financial Aid to ASPC funding, so more careful examination is necessary before anything official will happen, he said.
Board rates will be set for next year in the coming months, and Robinson said the administration will likely need more time to look into the issue.
“I’d like to see us get to the leg work now,” he added. “It might take two years, but I’d like to open up the conversation a little more. From what I’ve seen at other schools, there are alternatives.”