Gourmet Bucks: Students’ true feelings

Jalen Byrd | Staff Writer

Gourmet Bucks are finally here! All students know what they are: the $75 that Hampton University places in the student’s account every semester —as long as the student in question has signed up for a meal plan. Beginning approximately a month after the school years starts, students can use their Gourmet Bucks to purchase food from the university’s Chick-fil-A, Pirate Grill, Planet Smoothie and Starbucks.

Initially, this $75 seems like a generous luxury the school gives its students, or at least that is what it may seem from the outside.

I was amazed to find out how students truly felt about the “luxurious” Gourmet Bucks.

Earlier in the week, I asked students in the Student Center how they felt about the Gourmet Bucks that the school provides. I asked them the following two questions:

1. Do you believe students should be provided more Gourmet Bucks?

2. Would you rather have the Gourmet Bucks distributed more frequently, and distributed periodically?

After surveying 40 students, asking them these two questions, 95 percent of them answered “yes” to question one; that is, 38 out of the 40 students surveyed believe students should be given more money for their Gourmet Bucks.

For those students who answered “yes,” I asked them why they felt this way. They explained to me that the current stipend simply does not contain enough money.

Seleata McDonald, a second-year psychology pre-med major from Madison, Wisconsin, called it “ridiculous.”

“It is very hard on the student athletes,” McDonald said. “For the most part, the cafeteria is closed by the time we get out of practice. I have no choice but to use my Gourmet Bucks. It has been less than a month, and I am already almost out. I think we should get at least $150.”

McDonald offers an interesting pespective. Student athletes devote so much of their time to the university. They dedicate countless hours of their week to performance and practice, it is comparable to maintaining a job while being a fulltime student. They should not have to worry about how they are going to eat after practice because they have no more Gourmet Bucks and the cafeteria is closed.

I then asked one of the two students about their “no” answer to question one. Talaya Hager, a second-year biology pre-med major from Washington, D.C., explained how she uses the current stipend of Gourmet Bucks as a learning tool.

“I agree that $75 is not a lot for students to use over a semester, but I am using this as a learning opportunity,” Hager said. “This is teaching me how to budget my money. Comparing myself from freshman year to now, I would have already spent all my Gourmet bucks. Now I am making my money last the entire semester.”

When asking students question number two, 100 percent of the answers were “no.”

When asking Lundon Williams, a second-year pre-nursing major from Laurel, Maryland, to explain why she answered “no,” Williams said, “Because I want all of my money, [it] makes me feel I have more if I get it all at once,” before laughing and walking away.

In conclusion: I have found that students do appreciate the kindness of the $75, but most would respectfully suggest a more generous amount.

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