AMANDA TRAUTMANN, Staff Writer—In their preparation for students returning to campus during COVID-19, Denison put out a community care agreement and restrictions on student behavior.
One of these restrictions was on student travel, specifically restricting students from traveling beyond Granville. This included travel for groceries and other necessities. Granville’s prices are far higher than neighboring towns, like Heath and Newark. This restriction was recently lifted after students complained in a pulse survey sent out by the school. However, the school’s lack of concern for the low-income students on campus was revealed in their COVID-19 planning.
I am gluten-free and dairy-free. Not by choice, but because I medically have to be. Gluten and dairy-free substitutions are extraordinarily expensive. In a more rural area like Granville, it’s so hard to find those substitutions anyway, let alone affordable ones. For reference, six regular (not gluten free) bagels are about $3. The best and cheapest gluten-free bagels I have found, at Aldi or Trader Joe’s, are $5. That’s more than double the price per bagel. At the IGA in Granville, the bagel prices are even higher.
I am immunocompromised and have been navigating the pandemic accordingly. The safest way I found is to go to the store, or whatever store is affordable and once a month, load up on as much as possible.
I’ve worked since I was 14 and I pay for my own groceries. My parents aren’t giving me an ‘allowance’ or grocery money, but they help when they can. I’m an adult who pays for my own food with the money I make working over twenty hours a week while in school. It’s ridiculous for the school to tell me and the many other low-income students like me, that I have to have to spend double the amount of money for half the amount of groceries in town.
There are certainly some options for grocery delivery from stores out of Granville, like Instacart. However, Instacart charges a fee for delivery. For some of us, a ten dollar delivery fee can make or break the bank. Personally, I had already paid for a subscription to a delivery service from Target during the start of the pandemic. However, because of how far Denison is from the Target in Newark, this service isn’t available.
Denison touts this mission of wellness, but the COVID-19 restrictions reveal that it is not their top priority. They put these restrictions in place without the financial wellness of low-income students in mind. What the university chooses to allow or not allow seems to be based around what will bring them monetary gain. They do not break down parties or unmask close together groups of people because they play sports, and bring in money. They lot towards our campus of strangers because it will bring that money. They want to keep us here so they can get money from us. This is not to say that turn people in the administration don’t want students to have a good experience. I know plenty of administrative people who are kind month the best possible experience for students. As an institution, however, Denison’s top priority is to make money.
Denison cannot charge me hundreds of thousands of dollars and then tell me I can’t go to a Trader Joe’s to buy affordable, good quality groceries. You can’t tell me that you care about my Wellness in the financially burdened Me by restricting where I can buy groceries to feed my body and keep myself healthy. Do they know what it does to your mental health to overdraft your bank account because you have to buy a $10 loaf of bread at IGA? Do they know how sick I get if I eat regular bread? Do they know how weak my immune system becomes when I eat gluten? Do they care? Apparently not.
None of this is to suggest that students should not be safe and follow the CDC guidelines for COVID-19. Traveling off campus to go to a bar in Columbus is so different from buying yourself nutritious, affordable groceries. All I’m saying is that they clearly are not thinking about how lower-income students are that are working students.
The COVID-19 planning reveals a gap in the administration’s concern for student’s wellness. There are so many other ways that there’s a good step up to be a safer campus. Stop letting strangers tour. Stop letting people from the town walk on our campus. Breach of the parties rich people do not succeed apart or not wearing masks. Don’t tell me when I call to report an enormous gathering that as long as they are wearing a mask, it’s fine.
The CDC guidelines say wear masks and be 6 feet apart. Why don’t you start enforcing that, Denison?