16This week, my third semester at Georgetown begins. For me, that spells four more months of essays on Kant’s sex life, procrastination of Yates visits and poor decisions made at Apex courtesy of the Burnett’s liquor dynasty. But one quintessential part of the Georgetown experience will be missing: daily treks to O’Donovan Hall, a relic from my time as an innocent Darnallian. I’m a busy student with little time to cook for myself. Why, then, do I find myself bidding Georgetown University Dining Services adieu?

It’s not the experience of Leo’s itself — some of my fondest memories at Georgetown involve my friends and I occupying a large, comfy booth for Sunday morning brunch. It isn’t the service, either; with the notable exception of the irrationally angry woman who guards the vegan banana bread, the employees of Leo’s are very friendly. Even the quality doesn’t bother me. Although I can’t seem to fathom why every variety of greens must be at least 25 percent rotted before being put out at the salad bar, I am a creature of habit who is perfectly content to live off of brown rice, sweet potatoes and make-your-own pizza for every meal.

No, while I do not object to the offerings or service at Leo’s, one incredible deterrent outweighs all of the positives of a convenient and fun meal spent courtesy of Georgetown dining: finances. The prices per meal are simply staggering. The cost of an individual swipe-in at Leos: $9.15 for breakfast, $11.05 for lunch, $13.15 for dinner and $11.05 for late night.

Obviously, purchasing one of the weekly plans on offer is cheaper than swiping in individually. For the 16 weeks that Leo’s stays open this semester, a 10 per week plan costing $1,735 comes out to $10.84 per meal — that is, if you use every meal, every week.

But between copious amounts of reading for my English major, serving chai lattes at Midnight Mug to refugees from the quiet floor and the obligatory three nights out a week, I don’t really have that much opportunity to venture from Village B to Leo’s to spend half an hour or more eating. That’s why Georgetown dining offers several block plans, one of which I purchased last semester. I barely managed to finish my 75 meals, and at $11.36 each, it was still awfully hard to justify, considering that  Wisey’s Burger Madness — higher quality and convenience than anything from Leo’s — costs just $7.65, tax included.

After barely finishing my 75 meal plan, I decided to look into a 45 block plan. Three meals a week: perfect for a busy student like myself!

A quick look at the financing, however, uncovers a dirty secret that nobody at Georgetown dining wants you to know about. The 45 meal block plan, priced at $613, comes out to an astounding $13.62 per meal. You read that correctly: Swiping in for a quick bowl of Lucky Charms on a 45 meal plan comes at a higher cost than an individual dinner. Those charms better be lucky enough to help me ace my ecology test, because otherwise they aren’t worth it. Georgetown dining, which according to its website “offers a significant cost savings” for students, is engaging in the most disingenuous kind of price gouging and they’re hoping you don’t notice or care.

It’s easy to see the numbers and shrug them off, but for the 55 percent of Georgetown students studying here thanks to financial aid, it’s the little things that add up. And it isn’t just the sneaky price inflation at work in our dining halls. It’s the $167.50 Yates fee charged to each student every semester. It’s the fundraising phone calls to current parents of Georgetown students already cosigning onto hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt in order to finance their children’s education. It’s an attitude of incessant nickel and diming of university families that dominates the culture at Georgetown and at too many other schools.

But what course of action can a student take? As the new semester begins, I sign on to another five figures of loans, begrudgingly pay my Yates fee and politely decline the “fundraising” calls because my family has already been fundraising, and will continue to do so well past my graduation as my loans continue to accrue interest. In 2011, I’m counting my blessings for the opportunity to attend this incredible institution as well as the dollars in my wallet.

And, as of Jan. 12, I’ll be supplying my own Lucky Charms.

 

Albert Eisenberg is a sophomore in the College. He can be reached at [email protected] Just Doing Me appears every other Friday.

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