Student Senate funding for students in isolation expires with no replacement

On Oct. 31st, the funding for University of Kansas students’ needs in isolation Student Senate allocated to KU Dining expired and all possible excess funds were supposed to have been transferred to the Food for Jayhawks program.

This means KU students in isolation at Naismith Hall since Nov. 1 have had to pay the full cost of food and toiletries from KU Dining. In isolation, the cost of food can be quite higher than at the dining halls such as Mrs. E’s on Daisy hill. The dining halls are an “all you care to eat” buffet for a $5.50 entry fee before 11 a.m., and $8.50 after 11 a.m. According to KU Dining’s isolation delivery menu: a single bowl of cereal costs $5.50, a Crimson and Blue Salad costs $11.50, and a hamburger costs $7.50.

A screenshot from the Oct. 13 Student Senate emergency committee meeting on funding for students in isolation in Naismith Hall. The meeting was held remotely though zoom due to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.

On October 13, Student Senate held emergency meetings for the Finance and University Affairs committees to pass a $10,000 funding bill to the full Student Senate, which approved the bill on the next day. The bill was supposed to help pay for students’ food and toiletries while in isolation, but when the coverage was applied under the bill is unclear.

Jim Schilling, the director of KU Dining, said in an email that the money from Student Senate was being applied to student’s accounts to offset their costs in isolation.

Annika Janssen, a KU student who left isolation the day after the bill was passed, was billed for the full amount of her orders while in isolation. Janssen’s account never received the funds. But Drew Bethel, a KU student who was in quarantine for 48 hours and left on October 30, has not yet received a bill.

Schilling was asked when the coverage began for students and how much of the $10,000 provided by Student Senate was used, but Schilling did not reply in time for publication.

At the Oct. 13 meeting, Student Body Vice President Grant Daily encouraged the Finance and University Affairs committees to take re-examine the issues of food affordability in isolation and take further action. Since the bill was passed, the topic of food prices or toiletries for students in isolation has not appeared on the agendas for either committee once. Until Student Senate takes further action, students next semester in isolation will have to pay the full price KU Dining charges students in isolation.

The Underground in Wescoe Hall was closed in September due to KU Dining’s financial struggles from the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo by Wesley Cudney.

Schilling said that KU Dining will have lost millions of dollars by the end of the fiscal year. When asked what would happen should KU Dining become insolvent, Daily said the situation would be unlikely, because the Kansas Board of Regents gave KU the ability to financially aid KU Dining. “Since students have access to food is essential, I would guess that the University would never allow a situation to form in which paying students wouldn’t have access to on campus food,” Daily said.

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