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Co-ex forum offers answers

Bridget Meade | Wednesday, September 8, 2010


Vice President of Student Affairs Karen Johnson attended a Student Government Association (SGA) sponsored forum Tuesday night to discuss co-ex-change meal tickets. 
Johnson said nonessential co-ex-change meal tickets — which allow Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame students to eat at the other campus — will not return in the foreseeable future.
Options are being explored, Johnson said during the question-and-answer session attended by close to 50 students and administrators in the Saint Mary’s Student Center Lounge. 
With the new policy instated at the beginning of the school year, students are no longer allowed to receive co-exchange tickets without prior approval from director of Dining Services Barry Bowles. 
Such permission would be granted with reasonable grounds for missing a meal at the Saint Mary’s Dining Hall, such as participation in Notre Dame sponsored clubs or classes, Johnson said. Meal tickets simply for social dining, however, are no longer available.
The forum was organized to allow the Saint Mary’s administration to address misconceptions about the change in the program while allowing students to ask questions and address concerns. 
“We’ve received numerous e-mails and questions concerning the co-ex program, and we wanted to give the students a voice to convey their interest in a manner that would benefit both the students and the administration managing the issue,” student government president Rachael Chesley said. 
Richard Speller, vice president of finance and administration, said the change is due to a conflict in the distribution of the co-ex tickets, not financial issues. The finance committee expects the change in the program to have a neutral effect on the school’s budget.
Many students expressed concern for meal ticket availability for their individual circumstances. Bowles told students they can approach the dining services with their unique situations for co-ex consideration. 
The administration in attendance also indicated interest in contracting a new agreement between the Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s dining services, although nothing has been formalized. These options would not connect the meal plans of students between the two schools, Johnson said. 
Junior Emily Schmitt said while she finds herself better informed about the issue after having attended the forum, she feels the forum did little to change the situation. 
“The administration was willing to listen, but not necessarily act on the opinions we expressed,” Schmitt said. “My expectations for the forum were fulfilled, but I was extremely disappointed in what I heard.”
Students with questions and concerns regarding the co-ex program can contact Karen Johnson at [email protected] and Barry Bowles at [email protected]