Thursday, October 19, 2017

Highway robbery at Trinity College? A look at what we pay

FORREST ROBINETTE ’16

CONTRIBUTING WRITER

This is a tirade against the ubiquitous nickel-and-diming which plagues the life of the average Trinity student. Our petty cash is perpetually pilfered as we attempt to go about our everyday lives. We are repeatedly made victims of shameless highway robbery because the college has a monopoly over the many services that a college student requires.

From eating to printing to doing laundry, students’ pockets are repeatedly picked. This campus feels like one gargantuan hotel mini-bar. Just like with a mini-bar, the power of convenience is exploited to deceive students into paying exorbitant prices for inferior quality. It’s opportunism run amok and something must be done.

This seed of resentment was first sewn in my experiences at the dining halls. At first, I only went to Mather where the small charge seems reasonable for an all-you-can-eat buffet which includes soft serve ice cream and a nice variety of pizza. However, my eyebrow was raised when I became a regular patron at the Cave. Just like Mather, I was initially content with its pricing. A sandwich, fries and large drink for one meal swipe? This is too good to be true! However, a closer look revealed a less wonderful reality.

The Cave is fine and dandy if you’re getting a combo from Mondo subs or the Grill, but the Outtakes selection is both subpar and pricey. A “Southwest Turkey Salad” is $6.29. I put that description in quotation marks because there are only two slender pieces of lackluster turkey thrown onto a tasteless bed of lettuce. My rage truly materialized when I ate a pathetic California roll which cost $8.99. I paid nearly ten dollars for six scrawny rolls of mushy mediocrity! I would not mind paying nine dollars for delicious sushi, but we’re shelling out big bucks for total crap. The relationship between cost and quality is absurdly skewed. We are being taken advantage of and something has to be done. When a tiny cup of off-brand Cocoa Puffs costs $5.75, something has to give.

This exploitation is far-reaching because it extends to other services such as laundry and printing. It costs $2.50 to wash and dry one load of laundry. Doing laundry regularly could add up to a fifty dollar bill for a single semester. And that is a generous underestimation. Think of all the things you could buy with fifty dollars! And the icing on the cake is the inferiority of the laundry machines. I can’t say that I’m happy paying $1.35 for my clothes to go from soaked to damp. I’m not going to go find some off campus Laundromat with lower prices; therefore, Trinity can charge me whatever they want to wash my clothes because they have the power to do so. The library is another den of opportunism. At my high school I wouldn’t have dreamed of paying for printing. You printed when you wanted, how much you wanted, in color if you wanted and you never thought twice about paying a nickel for any of it. It costs 10 cents to print a page of black and white text. This seems infinitesimal, but it adds up when teachers require you to continually print off twenty page articles for class. And don’t even get me started on color printing. You pay 75 cents for a single page of color paper. I have to print ten images for a class presentation and boom! I’m out eight bucks. There’s no mercy. Call me optimistic, but I thought that with a $57,580 tuition, some essential services might have been complimentary.

The bookstore is another paragon of thievery. I gave my right arm for my textbooks. I later compared bookstore prices to those on Amazon and felt like a total fool. The bookstore also has a monopoly over sought-after Trinity apparel. Scarves, t-shirts, sweatshirts, pajama pants, sweatpants, toboggans, they have it all, but at such a cost. I bought a Trinity sweatshirt the other day which I’m pretty sure was more overpriced than a Brooks Brothers button-down. They have us right where they want us. Oh, don’t have any stamps? No problem. You can buy some at the post office… for a price. I just feel like I’m at Disney World sometimes paying ten dollars for a soda.

I do not have inside knowledge regarding the financial workings of the college, but it seems like this overpricing is unnecessary and unfair. We pay so much to be here in the first place and then we pay more and more just to go about our college lives. Our money shouldn’t be purloined at every turn. And good quality should be the standard in dining, laundry and all other services. I have a dream that one day I will print for free and pay 99 cents for a generous helping of Cocoa Puffs.

 

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