Duke costs too much. Of course we are getting a world class education, and it costs that much at the Ivies, right? Wrong. Duke University is apparently intent that a Duke education cost as much as possible—or at least as much as the Ivies. So rather than sitting around being charming and waiting until Duke is old enough to start growing ivy, I suggest we tighten our Bible belt and put Duke on diet. Here are ways in which the University should cut some costs and, in doing so, change the modern American concept of the elite private university:
Every purchase made with food points includes what amounts to about a 21.95-percent tip to Duke University, since they take 18 percent of each dollar each student converts in to food points. I want a job at that restaurant! Costs to students would be significantly reduced if there were no required minimum amount of food points per semester on campus. The University undoubtedly trusts and believes in the ability of students to think. This would lead the University to lower its extortionary tax on food consumption. Quality would undoubtedly improve at on- and off-campus eateries alike when accountability is added to the equation.
Now I bring my argument to housing. Make it competitive. One can easily imagine the housing folks feverishly writing out their next “Five-Year Plan” trying to engineer the Duke housing market. The University must say nyet to the current system. Allow students to live off-campus after their freshman year, and see what they do. Duke will be forced to lower the cost of on-campus housing once its current three-year monopoly on housing is broken. Presumably, once polished and shined at this preparatory car wash of life, students will have to make their own housing decisions (on friends’ couches in Durham or with my parents), why not let them get an early start?
Back to food. Last semester my resident adviser entertained two charming evenings of dessert fondue, bless her heart. She had to spend the money somewhere; it is her job after all. The University can cut costs significantly by reducing all of this activities nonsense. Students are smart, inventive, and do not need to be coddled with fun things to do. The hundreds of free-food giveaways and the overeducated and underworked residence coordinators could be eliminated at a significant savings, and no one would really notice.
Duke justifies its grotesque yearly rise in real costs by saying its in line with its peer institutions. Well, the Ivies didn’t want me, and I don’t want them. If Duke truly wants to be a different sort of University, we must bring fiscal accountability to the Allen Building. A reduction in costs would open Duke’s doors a little wider to socioeconomically disadvantaged applicants and turn Duke from the playground of the progeny of the rich and famous into the playground of soon-to-be rich and famous. We came to Duke for an education and in eliminating superfluous costs, we can truly educate ourselves on real-world decision making. If Mommy and Daddy Duke will leave us alone then they can do what they do best: teach.
Thomas Storrs is a Trinity junior.
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