Free laundry, more living spaces designated for upperclassmen and five new meal plan options are in University Housing’s plans for the 2020-21 school year.
According to interim director of Housing, Charlie Francis, Housing is implementing these changes in hopes that they will improve students’ dining and living experiences.
For example, he said removing the $2.25 cost of laundry is a response to student requests. Free laundry is expected to be a part of housing contracts beginning fall 2020, and, according to Francis, should not affect housing prices.
“When I was in college, you walked around with a bag of quarters for laundry,” he said. “I’m hoping this will be more competitive with external apartments and provide students with another service that they don’t have to worry about.”
The specific details on how this will work are still being determined, he said, but Housing is hoping students will be able to use their NCards for laundry access.
Francis said another factor influencing Housing decisions about laundry is sustainability.
“Some of the students [from the Residence Hall Association] were worried that if you just did unlimited laundry, it’s not sustainable,” Francis said. “They’ve asked us to do something, such as set a maximum number of loads that you can do a week, so that it’s better for the environment.”
These details are still being determined, he said.
Also new for fall 2020 are the expanded options for upperclassmen living. Floors nine and 10 of Smith Hall will be for sophomores, juniors and seniors only.
According to Francis, this change is a response to upperclassmen students who want more privacy and to live with students who are similar in age to them.
“In creating this, we’re hoping we can attract some returning students to those floors,” he said.
Francis said he is also hoping students will be pleased with the five new meal plan options that will be introduced next fall. The All-Access meal plan will be the same, but the Red 440 and White 250 meal packs will be replaced with Dining Dollars. Students will be able to use Dining Dollars at any University Dining Services location, including dining centers, Herbie’s Market and Husker Heroes, according to the Housing website.
“Right now, there is one meal plan for first-year students,” Francis said. “This next year, first-year students will have the option of three meal plans.”
According to the website, the first option for first-year students is the traditional All-Access meal plan that allows students 21 meals per week at the dining centers, Husker Heroes or Herbie’s Market. Additionally, first-year students will be able to choose from the Platinum 15/600 plan, which has 15 meals per week and $300 Dining Dollars per semester, or the Diamond 10/1200 plan, which has 10 meals per week and $600 Dining Dollars per semester. All three plans cost $4,653.
Upperclassmen will have the option of any of those plans, as well as the Gold 350/500 plan, the Silver 200/500 plan or the Bronze 130/500 plan. The Gold 350/500 plan offers 175 meals and $250 Dining Dollars per semester at $3,525, the Silver 200/500 plan offers 100 meals per semester and $250 Dining Dollars per academic year at $2,525 and the Bronze 130/500 plan offers 65 meals per semester and $250 Dining Dollars per academic year at $1,775.
“All the meal plans will allow up to five swipes per meal period,” University Dining Services director Dave Annis said. “This means that if you use one swipe at a dining center, you can use more swipes at a Husker Heroes or Herbies Market within the same meal period.”
Additionally, according to the website, students with a Platinum 15/600, Gold 350/500, Silver 200/500 or Bronze 130/500 plan will be able to purchase Herbie 25 Add-on packs. These packs cost $260 and give students 25 extra meal swipes.
According to the website, unused Dining Dollars will carry over from the fall to spring semester but expire at the end of the academic year. Unused weekly swipes do not carry over to the next week.
“Some students may be a member of a fraternity or sorority and know that they will be eating at the house every Monday night,” Francis said. “So, we are hoping these changes will allow and accommodate for where students are in their lives.”
According to Francis, Annis has many years of experience in food service and has been the leader in moving things forward for UNL dining.
“I am most excited about the versatility that this will give our students,” Annis said. “We think students will appreciate the flexibility of the new plans.”
Something that Francis said won’t change for fall 2020 is break housing. Students who want to live somewhere that will be open during breaks should choose to live in Selleck Quadrangle, Schramm Hall, Smith Hall, Massengale Residential Center, or a suite or apartment-style dorm.
The housing contract opens on Tuesday, Oct. 15, and Francis said students should sign up soon if they want a space on campus.
Overall, Francis said he is excited about the new opportunities that these changes will provide for students.
“I think it’s exciting because for a long time students have been telling us that they want more flexibility and options,” he said.