Give the students a Coke at a fair price

Why do Cokes cost $1.50? That’s a lot. Like, really. I can remember when I was younger, going to Six Flags with the ‘rents, and them freaking out because Cokes there were $2.00, and that was in a place where you have no other options to escape starvation. Now I know there’s inflation, and that cokes at Six Flags are more like $3 these days but on a college campus, there is no reason for such an essential between-class item to be so damned expensive.

Recently, the Tech community has had the “pleasure” of a Wal-Mart opening nearby. On a recent trip to said Wal-Mart, I was thirsting for some good ole Coca Cola. I was quite pleased to find them costing just a buck. Which is exactly the cash I had in my pocket. One dollar. One Coke. What a novel idea for the most common American currency to be capable of purchasing the all-American brand.

Doesn’t that make a lot of sense? I mean, if I walk to the CVS near my house, a two-liter Coke product costs $1.70. 2 Liters is about 68 ounces. That’s the same volume as about 3.5 20-ounce bottles from a machine.

Now, I’m aware of the overhead of having the machine, having to pay electricity, and having to have someone stock the beverages. But that overhead can’t be that much.

Electricity, for example, costs about ten cents per kilowatt-hour. An energy efficient refrigerator uses about 45 kWh each month. That’s only five bucks a month to keep the drinks cold. The machines themselves cost about $5,000. That’s quite the sum, but not really a problem over the life of a vending machine, which can get upwards of 20 or 30 years. Even then, they can resell for a few thousand.

But all these extra costs should be a near moot point here. Ma Tech supposedly has a contract with the Coca Cola Company that restricts the sale of non-Coke brand beverages on campus. Even the official tour guides tout how the Tech Pizza-Hut is the only one in the nation to serve Coke instead of Pepsi (true as of my freshman year at least). We should at least be able to negotiate a deal with some mutual benefits.

So, getting back to my original point, why do Cokes on campus cost so much?

I’m guessing it is cause the Shaft is getting greedier. It’s not enough to hand it to us with ever increasing tuition and fees, they also have to charge us ever more for food.

So rather than just gripe and moan I’m going to offer some suggestion on how to fix this travesty and misplacement of student trust.

Go back to the BuzzCard use discount. In my freshman year, you got a discount at all the Coke machines on campus with a BuzzCard. The discount was an incentive to keep money in your BuzzFunds so the BuzzCard center could earn interest on it. A smart move, but not so well executed.

I think the demise of this system was the fact that anyone could just load up a few bucks at a nearby BuzzCard station, then immediately get the discount at a machine.

So instead of offering a universal BuzzCard discount, you could just give a good faith discount to students who use their BuzzCards. As a CS graduate student, I can assure you it’s quite easy to check the status of whoever swipes their BuzzCard. So charge students $1, and everyone else $1.50.

Another suggestion: take a P-card and just charge the difference. $350,000 could supplement the 50 cent difference of about 700,000 Cokes. Curbing wasteful administrative spending could reduce the need to charge students more and more for such a basic item. Surely there are ways the Institute could save a chunk of change by conserving various resources. If the CoC shut all of its computers down at night, they’d save hundreds.

The moral of the story here is that Tech shouldn’t try to rip its students a new one in every aspect possible. Instead they should make a lot of students happy by giving us cheap Coke. This could be accomplished in a myriad of ways, by cutting spending or by just voluntarily getting less money from each sale. If Tech does something to this effect, I’ll be that much more of a Tech fan.