The University Co-op should reimplement student discounts

Diego Díaz

College is not cheap, a reality that students have accepted for generations. Even with the recent push to make higher education more affordable, students still feel the financial strain they reluctantly put on themselves while attending college.

Students will continue to accept the price of admission because, frankly, higher education is priceless. However, this is not to say UT should not cut their students any slack. 

If the University will not help students out by addressing the price of tuition, then the least they can do is offer a student discount at the University Co-op.

There are countless conversations to be had about the financial conundrum of attending a world-class university like ours, and yet, one that seems to have the simplest solution is the pricing of textbooks. Textbooks are consistently expensive and to deny students a modest discount that could help them out in the slightest way is absurd.

Students already endure the Kafkaesque nightmare of classes requiring additional textbook logins and access codes that can cost anywhere upwards of $150, despite the class already being paid for by their tuition. 

The revenues generated from the University Co-op are used for various luxuries around campus, as well as supporting itself as a business, yet I am skeptical to agree that there is absolutely no wiggle room to give students shopping at the nonprofit a break. 

“We are a nonprofit and we wanted to be here at the end of COVID-19, so we took a lot of action at the Co-op to ensure that we are going to be here on the other side of the pandemic for students,” said Cheryl Phifer, president and CEO of the University Co-op. “The previous year we gave about half a million dollars out in student discounts [for course materials], and we just did not feel that we could afford that this year.”

The financial strain of the pandemic has been felt by everyone and the University Co-op is of course no different.

 That being said, students have also fallen prey to the financial strain brought upon by COVID-19 and still deserve a vendor that will be forgiving. Additionally, even if the cost of course materials was just too rigid this year and out of the University Co-op’s hands, a discount on general merchandise or apparel could serve even a symbolic role. 

“Students have less disposable income and probably do most of their shopping at the Co-op, so it was surprising to me that my own university would be so unforgiving,” said Emma Goldstein, radio-television-film junior. “We all want to rep our school, but don’t all have $70 to casually drop on a sweatshirt.”

 UT talks a big game about being a family, boasting its extensive alumni network, as it should. But UT denies its students, who are already handing over massive sums of money each semester and who will be asked to make donations after their graduation, the simple act of being able to buy books and merchandise at a discounted rate. This sours the sentiment a little bit. 

There is plenty more to discuss about the financial dealings of college as an institution, but reimplementing a student discount for the University Co-op is really the least that UT can do.

Díaz is an English sophomore from San Antonio, Texas.