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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Column: The prices at Highland are too damn high

    I don’t know about you, but I definitely don’t have much (any) disposable income as an out-of-state UA student. Even if I was rolling around in trust fund dough, I know I would still have an ethical issue with spending $7 on a jar of pasta sauce at Highland Market when I could get the same exact sauce for $2 at Fry’s.

    Even if I were a billionaire, I would still take issue with the $500 annual fee to be a part of the Honors College. And the $4 water bottles at Cactus Grill (24 water bottles cost $1.88 at Fry’s). And the $10 “freshman fee.” And the $40 “student services fee”— what are student services? And the Financial Aid fee. I have to pay to receive Financial Aid?

    The list goes on and on.

    According to a student employee in the Student Union Memorial Center games room, night janitors were recently laid off due to “budget cuts.” How on earth could the university need to be making budget cuts? Perhaps there is something I am naively disregarding, but it seems to me that students’ money is being guzzled in and there is often nothing to show for it.

    There are two main issues here: one is ethical and one is, obviously, economical. With the obscenely overpriced food at places like Highland and U-mart, I choose the more ethical stance. The university knows that there is a large population of students living in dorms who don’t have cars, and are thus “trapped” on campus. Knowing this, it realized it could get away with selling a $7, tiny jar of pasta sauce, along with a plethora of other highly overpriced groceries, simply because people would feel they had no other options, and would opt to spend the money out of necessity and/or convenience.

    This is unethical and irresponsible of the university. Is our immensely expensive tuition not enough? Does it really need the few dollars it makes off that pasta sauce?

    My educated guess to that question is no. Absolutely not. These prices are merely taking advantage of students and their already struggling financial situations.

    People make a decision to go to a school with regard to the cost of tuition and they don’t expect to have to pay a few thousand dollars more than the stated tuition in a myriad of vaguely labeled “fees.” How could there be a $10 charge for being a freshman? The $40 student services fee could perhaps account for the use of the Student Recreation Center, or the library, or university technology, but it turns out each of those sections have their own couple hundred dollar fees listed. So it is rather unclear exactly what “student services” that $40 funds. All of these individual charges are relatively small, but they add up very quickly — especially when there are at least 15 of them per semester.

    We need to be more vigilant about finding out why the university charges ridiculous amounts of money for everything from pasta sauce to simply being a freshman. It is our money and we have a right to know where it is going, how it is being used, and how it could possibly not be enough to keep the university running without making regular budget cuts.

    If the university wants its alumni to have the desire and willingness to give back once our wallets begin waxing, they ought to stop kicking us while we’re down by hounding our currently waning wallets.

    Follow Talya Jaffe on Twitter.

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