Bucknell Student Government (BSG), in conjunction with Dining Services, recently sent emails to student homes advertising final exam care packages. Available for purchase, the packages are touted as a nice way for families to send well wishes to their University students during the week of final exams.
I fully appreciate the sentiment; I love connections to home, and food softens the blow of study marathons. I also understand that this is a convenient service to offer families. The packages appear to be designed with a slant towards health, which is a very good thing.
The part of the program with which I take issue, however, is the seemingly exorbitant cost. Priced at $46.50, the “Final Countdown” is the least expensive package made available. By my count, even if each itemized piece in the box were to cost one dollar, the total would be $24.00 … and that includes, not only single packets of snack items, but Ramen noodles and EACH of the five SINGLE tea bags. If their students require a gluten or nut-free basket, parents will need to shell out $62. As one point of comparison, Omaha Steaks offers a “Family Value Pack” designed to provide meal-worthy sustenance for a family of four for four days at a cost of $54.99.
Though some would say that final exam care packages are an offered service that one can choose to take or leave, it can also be said that parents are inclined to move mountains for the sake of their exam-stressed children. I hope that it is not the intent to prey on the parents’ vulnerability. Even realizing that the packages are overpriced and probably aren’t their student’s favorite food items, peer-pressured parents do not want their children to be disappointed or excluded from the college-sponsored offering.
Because BSG is listed as a sponsor, it is hoped that the program is a student-based fundraising endeavor. If so, it would be beneficial to clarify that on the order site. If not, it seems feasible that we, as a student body of problem-solvers, could find ways to reduce the costs forwarded to our parents in the process.
I will concede that for some, the convenience and the tradition is invaluable. However, there is not enough information disclosed on the advertisement to discern whether there are factors that contribute to this being a fair offering to all groups within the University community demographic. I bring this concern to light to encourage students, who feel as I do that this expenditure is not of worthy value, to let your parents off the hook. I also write to humbly grant parents the permission to choose; there are many of us that don’t measure our worth to you based on the sending of snacks.
For better or for worse, snacks are a built-in component of studying; we all have our habits and sufficient access to food. I also wish to legitimately ask whether the University is in a position to offer more care package options and practical price ranges (for example, a booklet of beverage coupons or vouchers for fruit at the Bison which would permit student choice and a built-in study break).
I would like to learn more about the care package decision-making process so that not even an inkling of hesitation is felt about the University which by every other standard of measure has struck me as gracious, hospitable, and family-oriented. I wish to generate community discussion that can debunk the notion that ‘Bucknell’ is ‘Bucksell.’