Plus Plan, Dining Hall to Undergo Changes

The Auxiliary Services Board of Directors unanimously approved the non-profit corporation’s annual budget, as well as several new initiatives beginning in the fall.

Meal plans for incoming freshman will cost $2,210 per semester, but returning students will pay the rate as the year they enrolled at Oswego State, due to the Oswego Guarantee.

Among the changes approved are the addition of a fourth vendor to Auxiliary Services’ Plus Plan program and expanding Late Night into Cooper Dining Hall.

The new fourth vendor would be a dine-in establishment, unlike the current delivery-oriented vendors on the program. Oswego Sub Shop, Domino’s and Wonton House currently accept Plus Plan. The new vendor could join the Plus Plan program as soon as the Fall semester.

"We have to find a restaurant that we can work with on this," said Michael Flaherty, general manager of Auxiliary Services.

Scott Grants, owner of The Woodshed, said he is interested in joining the college’s Plus Plan program.

"I think it would be a great match for the students and the college," Grants said. "If that happens to be the situation, I think we could enjoy a great relationship."

However, Grants said he is still in the planning stages and nothing has been finalized. Flaherty also said everything is still tentative.

One challenge of adding a fourth vendor is the program’s tax-exempt status. Alcohol cannot be included in the plan, said Stephen McAfee, director of Cash and Catering Operations. Large volume retail items, such as a full box of cereal, also cannot be paid for by the Plus Plan program.

"That’s why when you go into our stores we don’t actually sell bigger boxes, because it can’t be covered as part of the meal plan," McAfee said.

Businesses that sell large volume retail items along with individual items would only be able to sell specific items on Plus Plan.

"It literally would mean checking every single receipt for what was rung through," McAfee said.

McAfee said he has been in contact with numerous local restaurants interested in joining the program. He has narrowed the list to a few restaurants that seem viable to operate on the system. One is a chain and the other is a long-standing restaurant. A third is a more casual dinning option said McAffe, who would not reveal specifics.

Another initiative approved Thursday will add Cooper Dining Hall back to Late Night. Last year, the board approved an initiative to expand Late Night at Lakeside and Littlepage dining halls to seven days a week and extend the hours until midnight. The move was partially a response to student feedback.

"Late Night has been a very popular option with the students on campus. Eating on campus is part of living on campus," Flaherty said. "We made some changes to it last year and people seem to really like the changes we made."

But one change left Cooper closed after hours. Auxiliary Services received feedback from some of the roughly 800 students that live in Hart and Funnelle Halls, which are connected to Cooper, complaining about the inconvenience of walking to Lakeside or Littlepage for Late Night in inclement weather. Flaherty said no decisions have been finalized.

"We’re talking in that 10:30 to 11:30 range," Flaherty said.Another change likely to affect students still in the planning stage involves The College Book Store.

"We don’t know if we can do this or not, but we’re going to see if we can offer a rewards program for textbook purchases," Flaherty said.

The idea, which came from a student suggestion, would mean that when students spent a certain amount of money on textbooks, there would be some sort of reward for spending that money with The College Book Store. But specifics have not yet been hammered out.

Other initiatives approved include the addition of Starbucks frappachinos to The Lake Effect Café, The College Store accepting Plus Plan for food and beverage purchases and a fall program to offer extra incentive for students to deposit money onto their Plus Plan accounts.

Previously, Starbucks’ business model precluded satellite stores like the one in Lake Effect Café from selling frappachinos. But a recent change has made the cool coffee drink available to branch sites.

"This year they realized that on college campuses, we represent a significant amount of their representation, in that we have a very large population they can reach to," McAfee said.

Auxiliary Services has tracked how many requests were made for frappachinos over the last year. In the first few weeks of the fall semester, Lake Effect typically got about 30 to 60 requests a day. Frappachinos will be added over the summer, McAfee said.

Auxiliary Sevices said they expanded Plus Plan to include food and beverages in The College Store in an attempt to reach out to students going to and from Tyler and Mahar Halls.

"That just adds another level of service that we didn’t have in campus," McAfee said.

The board approved an incentive program for Plus Plan in the fall, similar to the one Auxiliary Services offers in March that gives students more time to spend their Plus Plan money.

The board also approved an initiative for the planning of "Sheldon’s Birthday Bash," an all campus picnic in the Academic Quad set for Oct. 4, Oswego State founder William Sheldon’s birthday.