by SAMANTHA BERTSCH
Due to a system-wide issue, some students were welcomed back to school on Jan. 9 without access to their full meal plan. Many students had meal swipes but no flex dollars as a result, making them unable to use their meal plans at retail dining locations.
The issue was resolved by 2 p.m. on Jan. 9, according to Dean of Students and UMW Dining Liaison Chris Porter. Students who have enduring meal plan issues were told to contact Porter.
According to Porter, the issue was “traced to an interruption in communication between the software and server.”
“It was a system-wide issue, which means it had the potential to affect the approximately 2,000 UMW students signed up for meal plans that feature flex,” she said.
Freshman English major Ky Huynh checked her meal plan balance the weekend before the semester started to find that flex dollars had not been loaded into her account.
“I started getting concerned the weekend before class started but I kept waiting,” she said. “The Sunday when I got back to school I was starting to get concerned so I asked my roommate if she was having this problem too but she didn’t check yet. When it got to first day of classes, I still saw nothing in flex.”
When serving students who were impacted by the issue, employees at retail dining locations such as Panera and Katora either wrote down students’ EagleOne card numbers or did not accept payments from meal plans.
Thalia Sabit, a freshman environmental science major, also experienced issues with her meal plan. She planned to only eat at the Top of the CRUC until her flex was added to her account.
“Last Monday a friend of mine checked her balance and saw that it was the same as last semester, so I thought to check too,” she said. “I realized that my flex also had not come through, same with a majority of my friends. I planned on reaching out to someone who worked in dining, but that’s when I got an email that said flex should be fixed soon. Until the issue was solved I just planned on eating only at the UC since, as a freshman, I have the unlimited meal plan.”
Students started sharing their concerns with UMW Dining employees as they noticed the issue.
“Emails began to come in just after 8:30 on Monday morning, Jan. 9, alerting us to the fact that flex accounts associated with meal plans weren’t working properly,” said Porter.
A final email was sent the following day, Jan. 10, telling students to reach out to Porter if they were still having issues.
“I was gonna go to the Student Services Tuesday morning to see what’s up but I saw an email on Monday that said if we don’t receive the flex by Tuesday we should contact this person,” said Huynh. “I did end up getting the flex money by Tuesday. It didn’t affect me that much but it did give me a little anxiety because I’ve had some financial issues at UMW where I had to go to Student Services multiple times.”
One student who visited Katora during the second week of classes did not have their full meal plan, said Katora employee Alexis Lagon, a junior theatre and education major.
“Yesterday, a student came in and their renewed plan was only flex and didn’t reload,” she said on Jan. 18.
Porter acknowledged the importance of students having access to their meal plans.
“We know how important having access to dining options is to our students, so we began working to get to the root of the problem,” said Porter.