Students criticized Penn Dining for reinforcing its policy of instructing students to show their PennCards before being allowed to swipe at dining locations.
Many Penn dining halls and facilities — including Falk at Penn Hillel, Houston Market, Starbucks at Commons, and McClelland Dining — have cracked down on the policy since Wednesday by placing signs and instructing dining hall workers to employ stricter ID checks when students are swiping in. Some dining hall workers, including those at Gourmet Grocer and Hill College House, have asked students to hand over their PennCards to be manually swiped in, rather than instructing students to tap the scanner themselves.
Barbara Lea-Kruger, the director of communications and external relations of Penn Business Services, said that there has been no policy change.
“The policy has always been to present a card and have our staff confirm the identity of the diner," Lea-Kruger said. "We have noticed as the year goes on that more students are forgetting their cards or not showing their cards or staff does not check so the signs are, as they state, a reminder to everyone. Again, this has always been our policy.”
However, students told The Daily Pennsylvanian that the stricter reinforcement of this policy has hampered their ability to have full control over their meal plan and sell or buy meal swipes. Some students on dining plans have long used their meal swipes in order to grant other students access to dining facilities, including when students have run out of their guest swipes.
“I don’t think this policy makes sense," College first-year Sam Tausner said. "If one student has an excess amount of swipes that they already paid for at the beginning of the year, they should be allowed to use them however and for whomever they want.”
Wharton and Engineering first-year Teena Bhatia echoed Tausner’s sentiment, saying the policy's newfound enforcement prevents students from having autonomy over their dining plans.
“I don't really agree with this new policy because I don't think it's a big deal who is using the swipes," Bhatia said. "Those swipes would have eventually been used up by the owner, so I don’t see how it would make a difference to the dining halls.”
Kruger said that regular swipes may only be used by the dining plan participant, as included in the Terms and Conditions of the dining plan.
The policy not only affects the purchasing of swipes but also causes inconveniences in a wider range of scenarios, College first-year Ahaan Chhatwal said.
“[I]f I want to get my girlfriend food without her having to move out of her room, that’s not possible anymore," he said. "Whether it’s my card or someone else’s card that’s swiping shouldn’t make a difference.”
According to College senior James Parente, the policy could cause a significant impact on the social life of students.
“Limiting students on the dining plan with how they can use their meal swipes not only limits their autonomy as growing, learning adults, but also removes the aspects of social gathering and the need for human connection that every human strives to have," he said.