Campus food needs to be competitively priced

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    Let’s play “The Price is Right.” What is the cost of a 17-stick pack of gum? What about an eight-pack of batteries? The cost of pens? Or a travel-sized tube of toothpaste?At Wal-Mart the gum costs 78 cents; the batteries $4.87; the pens 88 cents; and the toothpaste 78 cents.

    At the TCU bookstore, however, that same pack of gum will cost $1.25; a four-pack of batteries costs $5.68; the pens cost $1.98; and the travel-sized toothpaste costs $1.99.

    Camouflaged as a typical emporium, the TCU bookstore is one of many services at the disposal of TCU students. Many students willingly fork over their money, whip out a plastic credit card or exploit the option of sending home the bill to mommy and daddy to pay for frivolous overpriced items. After all, who cares what a pack of gum costs, or has the time to drive off campus and risk losing their precious parking spot when the same item can be found on campus.

    What has happened to learning how to make a dollar go further? What kind of fatuous values does it teach students to pay $5.09 for a package of Oreos, when the same package can be found elsewhere for $2.50?

    I can’t speak for all students on campus, but if I were racking up a bill of such overpriced items, my parents would hit the roof.

    Surely there are students here who are trying to save money because they can’t ride on the coattails of their parents. You know, those who actually know the definition of a minimum wage job.

    Then there are the students stuck in the dorms without a car who pretty much have to pay for items on campus. The TCU student resource guide states that new students at TCU have to choose a mandatory dining plan. There are three options. At the basic level, $1,150 is paid a semester. The gold level requires $1,400 a semester and the platinum level is $1,600 a semester. If students do not make a choice, the gold-level plan is automatically selected for them.

    Funds can roll over to the next semester. The resource guide states, “For continuing students, any remaining assigned dining funds at the end of the spring semester are nonrefundable.” Therefore, if you don’t use all the funds put onto your card, you lose it.

    Head Supervisor for Dining Resources Rick Flores said, “Midway through the semester, information is sent out about how much funds are left on a student’s account. A student’s card does cover all locations on the main campus, so they are also able to purchase the packaged food items.”

    Can the enticing services that TCU offers dare be called a monopoly? After all, I don’t see the same items at Frog Bytes being offered at a lower price to compete with the campus bookstore. Is the idea of anything so convenient being priced reasonably a bit too radical?

    So who is responsible for pricing the items at TCU?

    “The prices of dining services are approved by us, but TCU implements them throughout the year,” Flores said. “We also compare packaged food item prices to those at other locations.”

    It seems TCU is some sort of bubble-like paradise separating us from the real world. I just hope that bubble doesn’t burst too soon for the students here. Call me thrifty, but when looking at how much items at TCU cost, the price is definitely not right.

    Rachael Riley is a junior broadcast journalism major from Rusk.