UA rep to HDAG quits in frustration

Trepman says that administrators are ‘just going through the motions’

Undergraduate Association dining committee chair Paula C. Trepman ’13 resigned on Tuesday, criticizing the House Dining Advisory Group’s “sense of paternalism” and the “lack of general student input” into new mandatory house dining plan planned for fall 2011.

As dining committee chair, Trepman was an non-voting member of HDAG, the dining advisory group composed of students, housemasters and administrators. She was also on the request for proposals committee that drafted the solicitation to dining vendors to implement the new plan.

In a message Trepman wrote to UA President Vrajesh Modi ’11 and Vice President Sammi G. Wyman ’11 on Thursday, Trepman said that she thought the administration has not been taking students’ concerns seriously.

“I feel like the decision is made, and that the recent actions of the administration were just to appear as if it cares about student opinion,” she said in the letter. (See page 12 for the full text of Trepman’s statement.)

Trepman also complained about the group’s “paternalism.” According to Trepman, the members think “it is their job to regulate and ensure that students eat a normal three meals every day. College students are adults that can take care of themselves.”

Modi said he and Wyman would look to identify a replacement soon. Until then, the UA will have no official representation on HDAG. On Thursday night, Wyman sent an e-mail to UA senators explaining that Trepman resigned “because she was overwhelmed and under a lot of pressure.”

Trepman’s resignation follows a wave of student outcry against the new dining plan this fall, which culminated in an October 14 resolution by the UA Senate urging Chancellor Phillip L. Clay PhD ’75 “to intervene by halting” the approval process for the new plan.

The bill, which was passed unanimously, described the HDAG process as “not transparent … not thorough [and] … not fair.” It was met last week with the announcement from HDAG that it would continue with the new plan.

On October 21, HDAG reiterated that the new plan, which introduce a mandatory breakfast and dinner dining program in dorms with existing dining halls, would not be halted.

Freshmen will be required to purchase 14 meals a week, while sophomores must purchase at least 12 meals and juniors and seniors must purchase 10. The projected costs of the three plans are $3,800, $3,400, and $2,900, respectively.

In a meeting yesterday with Modi and Wyman, Dean for Student Life Chris Colombo said he would release a request for proposal (RFP) for a dining vendor by Monday at the latest, according to Modi. The content of the RFP will align fully with the dining plan formulated by HDAG.

“The core structure of the plan, as defined by the HDAG recommendation is not going to change,” Division of Student Life spokesman Tom Gearty told The Tech last week. “If we are to have a vendor for 2011, we have to move forward.”

The UA’s recent bill came too late in the process, Baker Dining Chair Cameron S. McAlpine ’13 said. “Because we’re in the middle of the request-for-proposal process, having such a radical change would force us to completely start over from the beginning,” McAlpine said in The Tech last week.

The bill also cited a UA campus-wide survey with 665 respondents in which 92 percent of participants responded that they did not prefer the new dining plan.

Colombo created HDAG in March to formulate recommendations for the new house dining plan. Other student members of the committee have expressed support for the plan.