Hate the Meal Plan? We Founded a Religion to Get You Out of It

Hate the Meal Plan? We Founded a Religion to Get You Out of It

TL;DR We actually founded a religion which has one guiding principle: dining hall food is sinful. Your guide to Stanford dining nirvana:

1) Visit our website and spiritually commit to the church.
2) Contact us via this Google Form for “written documentation from an independent (non-relative) clergy” (required by R&DE).
3) File for a religious exemption to the meal plan. Exemptions are processed by the Stanford Office of Religious Life, who can be contacted at [email protected].
4) Consult us if Stanford says no. We’ll help in any way we can.

NOTE: This is not a hoax — we filed with the IRS!

We have written a fair bit as of late about the meal plan. In short, we hate it. We think it’s extortionate. We think the food is of middling quality. We think that genuine competition — leasing dining hall spaces to third party vendors, opening up new leases to all possible buyers at reasonable rates, allowing food trucks, and distributing direct cash subsidies to students on financial aid — would improve the quality of the food on campus significantly.

But, like most student journalists, we recognize that we are screaming into the wind. The administration has little incentive to disrupt a deeply entrenched system. It’s too much effort, and, besides, increasing costs don’t appear to be deterring students from applying to elite schools like Stanford, which received more applications this year than ever.

And so, as is the wont of many across history who find themselves oppressed and beaten down by circumstances they cannot change, we are turning to religion. Specifically, our religion. You can check out its website here:

https://www.thereviewchurch.org

Welcome, fellow culinarily impoverished students, to the Church of Neglected Nourishment. As far as doctrine, we're pretty laissez-faire. The Review archives comprise a loose holy text for church members, but it’s more recommended reading rather than stuff you really have to believe. We encourage our members to syncretize various beliefs to find a spirituality that works for them, under the loving gaze of God (or not, whatever you want to believe is fine).

Except on dining matters. Our teachings on food are creedal and inalterable.

What do we believe? We believe that food not prepared by a member of our church has been sullied and defiled, and, as such, is unfit for consumption. That’s it. Eating — fueling one’s body for the celebration of life — is an inherently spiritual activity to us. The idea of eating food prepared by an outsider is actually making me shiver as I write this.

Thankfully, there are legal protections for people like you and me. We have filed with the IRS for legal recognition. Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, Stanford cannot legally discriminate against us for our religious beliefs. We think that forcing students to pay upwards of $15 for rubbery chicken that is a) inedible by any basic standard, and b) inedible on a spiritual level qualifies as discrimination indeed.

Screen-Shot-2018-05-30-at-3.58.57-PM-1

Page 1 of the very, very long IRS form we filled out.

Stanford acknowledge this on the R&DE website, where they state clearly that “If you live in a residence with a required meal plan, you may request an exemption if there are concerns about meeting religious dietary requirements.” We encourage all of our members to request such an exemption, lest they incur divine wrath upon themselves and their loved ones. See the top of this piece for a step-by-step guide to doing this.

So if you too have forced Arrillaga chicken down your throat despite every fiber of your body screaming at you not to, if you too have looked at your bank balance and winced at the damage Coupa and Treehouse have wrought, and if you have surveyed the options in a dining hall and wished you could be anywhere else, we offer a path to redemption. Join us.

Subscribe to the Stanford Review