I know I’m not the only one who’s done the math about this, but let me spell it out. Double rooms are $5,224 per year, but it’s really only for eight months. Per month that you stay there, that’s $653, and divided by 12 (which is what you would pay to live off campus), that’s about $435-but what you get is half of a very small room. Plus, both you and your roommate have to pay, so you really pay $1306 per month to live in a glorified box.
I live in a large two bedroom condo in Pinecrest, and collectively, my roommate and I pay $1,300 for rent-and no, I don’t have a car. It’s on an annual lease, but my bedroom is about the size of the dorm rooms at Pearson, plus I have my own bathroom, a large living room, and a kitchen. Last year, I lived in a house and I paid $425 per month, and even with utilities, it never came out to more than $500.
Living on campus might be worth it economically, if you didn’t have to also buy the meal plan. Without going into the quality or the variety of Chartwells’ food-though it’s definitely worth discussing – the 14-meal plan is now $3,678 annually. If you eat every single meal, you pay about $8.20 per meal. I never did though-for a while, I’d try to grab a muffin or something on my way to class, just so my meal plans wouldn’t be completely wasted. I effectively paid $4 per muffin, and that was my effort to not waste money. You’re not even supposed to take anything out of the cafeteria! And don’t tell me that they get dining dollars, because paying $3,678 per year to get $300 worth of food you’ll actually enjoy eating isn’t worth it.
Here’s another fun way to think about it: you pay $456 per month for food. Did you know that the average family of four spends $400 per month on groceries? And yes, gas is expensive, but with a student discount, a public transportation pass is $37 per month.
But wait-you already pay tuition to be a part of this community! Tuition, per semester (according to the website) is now $15,366, not including fees! Now that’s an obscene profit margin. Most of the people who work on campus get paid poverty wages, so the money sure as hell isn’t going there.
Personally, I believe in corporate responsibility, and I think that if you’re making a respectable profit and you don’t pay your employees well, you’re a bad person. I realize, though, that that’s a matter of opinion. But when someone is emptying their wallet to you and you give them bad service for it, that’s just bad business, no matter how you look at it.
Living on campus may be better for some people, but you have to recognize what people are getting for what they pay, and charge them accordingly. Living on campus, UM students pay market price, plus skyrocketing tuition, to live in a box and eat sh*t. So please, stop making a mockery of the term “student discount.”
Bethany Quinn is a senior majoring in Latin American studies and photography. She may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.