By ALEXANDRA COOPER
College is expensive. I think that is something that most people can agree on regardless of if you live on campus or live off-campus and commute every day. As a residential student, my family pays for on-campus housing and a meal plan in addition to my tuition. I have the 225 block and $200 flex meal plan, but I still find myself with so many extra Flex dollars at the end of the semester that I don’t know what to do with the leftover money. I think it’s great that UMW Dining offers students the option to purchase or donate cases of drinks and soup to those in need during the last few weeks of the semester with their leftover Flex, but have found the prices to be ridiculously expensive and completely unreasonable.
Last year at the end of my freshman year, I bought a case of Dasani water from the Nest with my extra Flex at the end of the spring semester. It cost $48 Flex dollars. While I was happy to use my extra Flex dollars so I didn’t waste the money my parents were required to spend on the Eagle Plan, I was shocked at the prices!
I can understand marking up prices a little bit so that UMW makes some type of profit from the purchase, but I could have bought that same case of 24 Dasani water bottles at the Target at Central Park for $4.99! That’s almost a difference of $43 between buying it on campus and buying it at a local retailer. For the same amount of money, I could buy nearly ten cases of water which I’m sure any organization would welcome having during the summer months.
Recently I made a joke on social media about Flex being UMW’s very own Bitcoin given its excessively high market value, but it also begs these questions: Why are the prices so high for a case of 24 bottles of water, and what is UMW Dining doing with that extra $43 I would be spending?
I can imagine spending nearly $50 or more on drinks at warehouse clubs like BJ’s or Costco, especially if you were planning on buying multiple cases of water and soft drinks. The purpose of those stores is to buy items in bulk so consumers can get increased savings on the products they need to purchase. It makes sense to spend that kind of money when you can get a larger quantity. You don’t have to be an economics major to understand that is more bang for your buck. However, college students should not be paying that much for one case of water, especially if they are trying to use up their extra Flex at the end of the semester.
UMW Dining needs to take a good, hard look at their drink and soup case prices and reconsider how much they are charging students for these items. If they don’t want to change their prices, I think UMW Dining should at least consider donating one or two cases of drinks or soup to the Fredericksburg Area food bank for every order placed by students during the ordering period. I might feel a little bit better about spending all that Flex if they did their part to justify the cost by donating a few cases for each order to help the less fortunate in the area.