Tragedy of the Commons: A Look at Davidson College’s Overpriced Meal Plans, Financial Aid and the Politics Behind it.

Davidson College, like many other colleges, is an institution that likes to give off the appearance of a perfect academic setting with perfect students in which real world topics can only collide with our Thesis papers. Although we are more than happy to talk about these issues, we are less willing to admit that most of these issues can be found to some extent here on campus.  Of course part of the problem lies in the fact that some students aren’t comfortable with talking about it, but the bigger issue is that our administration doesn’t want the deeper issues of this institution to be advertised and exposed to the public.

A few weeks ago, I was complaining to one of my friends about the ridiculous prices in the union. Although, I do have to admit that their Wildcat burger with a side of fries does taste pretty good, there is no reason why I should have to pay $9.35 for such a basic college meal. After talking about the general cost of overpriced food items on campus and the fact that they have caused me to drop my meal plan in the pursuit of cheaper yet more time consuming “do it yourself” option, my friend whispered something to me. “You do know that you can get food stamps through the College, right?”

Now his informative question shocked me for three different reasons. 1) As a student on financial aid and with multiple loans, I have not once during my three years of attendance at this school, heard anything ever about the availability of the SNAP program to us as college students. 2) As a student who has been working in the financial aid office of Davidson College for the last three years the Food Stamp program has yet to be uttered in the office.  And 3) Why did my friend feel the need to whisper this information to me after previously having a somewhat loud rant about the outrageous prices here on campus?

According to the United States Department of Food and Agriculture Food and Nutrition Services website, “if you are in college more than half-time, you may qualify for SNAP if you meet any one of the conditions below,” which includes if “you receive (any amount of ) federal or state work-study monies” and if “you work for pay for 20 hours or more per week”. So now the question is how could a college that prides itself on “meeting 100 percent of your “calculated” financial need entirely through grants and student employment” somehow forget to mention to students that we have this service at our disposal? If Davidson college is need blind and truly prides itself on helping students from all socioeconomic backgrounds successfully attend this school then why are they keeping us in the dark?