Abolition of mandatory meal system in dormitories triggered by Fair Trade Commission
Abolition of mandatory meal system in dormitories triggered by Fair Trade Commission
  • Hur Jin
  • 승인 2012.08.31 12:05
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Ewha has also enforced the mandatory meal system, offering 50 meal tickets per month. Photo by Kahng Sun-woo.

The mandatory meal system, whereby students are required to purchase meal tickets, the fee being included in dormitory costs, was shown a red light by the Fair Trade Commission (FTC) this past July. Universities are rushing to change their meal policies, with Sungkyunkwan University in the lead.
The FTC first issued a warning to Sungkyunkwan University on July 12, as the issue surfaced when a Sungkyunkwan University student filed a complaint to the FTC. As a result, the university decided to abolish its meal policy and implement an elective system starting this fall semester.
According to the FTC, the mandatory meal system of university dormitories violates the fair trade law, under which the mandatory system is an unfair trade practice infringing upon students’ right to choose.
Before the universities were put under the microscope by the FTC, 75 schools among 98 had been operating a mandatory meal system. University officials claim that such action was a necessary step for the students’ own good.
“The mandatory meal system keeps the food expenses at a minimal cost and encourages residents to maintain a regular dietary schedule,” said Lee Duck-kyu, associate director of Ewha’s dormitory system.
By calculating costs according to the expected demand, say the universities, such a policy allows a reduced payment per meal. A large number of universities therefore claims that, without a set number of meal ticket purchases, the price of each meal would eventually rise.
Students, however, express different opinions.
“As a mechanical engineering major, I study too far from the dormitory cafeteria,” Jung Jae-wook (Korea University, 1) said. “The round trip takes approximately 40 minutes, but since the meals have already been paid for, this is a dilemma I have to face every day.”
Ewha students also complain about the mandatory meal system.
“I think it is a waste of money for me to buy 50 meal tickets since I see a lot of students dispose of their surplus tickets on the Ewha community Web site at giveaway prices,” Kim Jee-eun (International Office Administration, 2) said.
After the Sungkyunkwan University decision, the FTC sent an official document to other universities with mandatory meal systems. The document pressed these universities to make improvements in their meal systems, setting a deadline of Sept. 30.
The Ewha dormitory system has enforced the mandatory meal system for Hanwoori Dormitory residents by offering 50 meal tickets per month.
One official explained that in order to provide students with inexpensive, good quality meals, predictability of the total demand is a necessity.
But due to the impact of this controversial issue, Ewha plans to change its mandatory system to an elective one starting October.
“Since August, the Dormitory Office has been discussing with the Residents Committee and OURHOME, the meal service provider for Ewha, on determining a suitable elective meal system,” Lee said. “We will do our best to meet students’ needs and conveniences in using the dormitory cafeteria.”

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