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Sophomores will be able to choose between a new second-year dining plan or the two first-year plans currently available.

Credit: Kylie Cooper

Beginning with the Class of 2024, all students will be required to remain on a dining plan for their first two years at Penn. 

The change is intended to complement Penn's Second Year Experience program, which requires sophomores to live in on-campus housing starting in fall 2021. Provost Wendell Pritchett and Executive Vice President Craig Carnaroli wrote in an email to all first years on Monday that the change is intended to build community around shared meals and alleviate concerns about food insecurity on campus.

Students will be able to choose from a new second-year dining plan, with approximately 10 swipes per week, and the two existing first-year plans, according to the email. 

The new second-year plan was designed following discussions with students on the Dining Advisory Board and a series of student focus groups in fall 2019, Pritchett and Carnaroli wrote. It costs $3,996 for the year, which is cheaper than the $5,952 first-year plans.

Sophomores who have kitchens in their on-campus residences will still be required to purchase the dining plan. Currently, 60.81% of sophomores living on campus with a dining plan have a kitchen, but this number will decrease with the opening of New College House West, which does not have fully-functioning kitchens, according to Penn Dining's Second-Year Dining FAQs.

With the opening of New College House West this fall, students will be able to use their dining plans at the NCHW coffee bar, as well as at the “innovative teaching kitchen” in the college house, according to the email. 

The requirement includes exemptions for students enrolled in the College of Liberal Studies or in Penn Nursing's BSN Second Degree Program, students who are married or in a University-recognized domestic partnership, students living with a dependent, and students who are 22 years old or older at the beginning of the academic year, according to the FAQ.

Current first years will be able to choose a dining plan when they sign up for campus housing beginning on Feb. 23. 

The Second Year Experience Program, which was announced in 2018, aims to strengthen existing programs for building community among sophomores. The second-year on-campus housing requirement was the first in a series of initiatives, including a Sophomore Day, and specific non-credit programs for sophomores.

The program has received widespread criticism from first-generation, low-income students, as well as Greek life members who may lose their chapter houses when sophomores, who frequently live in Greek housing, are required to move on campus.

Pritchett and Carnaroli, however, remain optimistic that the Second Year Experience will provide many benefits to sophomores. 

“In addition to providing access to fresh and nutritious meals, a dining plan builds and strengthens the community by providing students with opportunities to spend time with their friends, dine with faculty, receive nutritional support for special dietary needs, and experience a full range of social and educational activities,” Pritchett wrote.