Expensive Poverty

To the Editor: The purpose of my statement is two-fold: The first part has been a concern of mine since my first days on campus, and the second, which has just come to my attention, seems to be a travesty of college level administration. Both of these cases have to do with the food services at UVM, and the latter is disturbing and confusing. First, the cost of food for students on the UVM campus is ridiculous when compared to other schools. I attended a private school last year, Bucknell University, a school filled with predominantly upper-middle to upper-class students, and the food rates there were much more reasonable. I visited SUNY Binghamton a month ago and received a meal for two people at a price of $4.30. The students there pay $600.00 for their semester meal plans. At UVM, a salad with half a chicken breast cold is $6.00. A student pays $8.75 for dinner at the cafeteria, and much more if one decides to eat at the nicer places. I realized after the first week here that my $1200.00 meal plan would not be sufficient for the semester. This first part was a concern to me, but the second ignited outrage as I heard of the UVM administration’s stingy accommodations for the food preparation and custodial staff. After much opposition from the union and student petitions, UVM finally agreed to raise the starting salary to $9.05/hr. It is known that Burlington is an expensive place to live, and the living wage for a single, non-married person is $10.82/hr; the living wage for a one parent/one child family is $17.96/hr. It is blatantly obvious that these UVM workers are just barely making the living wage or worse, some surely are not making even that. The statistics reflect what I feared because 80% of one parent/one child families in Burlington earn less than the living wage. It’s not like UVM is giving students a good deal on food, as I stated above. In a partially state-run school we, the students, are paying probably twice of what is necessary for food, with no benefit for the workers: those who really deserve the extra money. By this revelation I am dumbfounded and appalled. I thought UVM to be a liberal place with a free-loving atmosphere and I have found out that this is nothing more than a money-making scheme for the university magistrate to accomplish through exploitation of the local workers.