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Students feel the effect of higher gas prices

Lauren Lavelle | Tuesday, September 6, 2005

Eleven days after Hurricane Katrina barreled into the southern United States, students at Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s are experiencing its debilitating aftermath in the form of high gas prices.

Katrina severely damaged several oil refineries in the Gulf Coast, causing gas prices throughout the country to skyrocket, reaching $6 per gallon in some states. South Bend residents are suffering the high gas prices, paying as much as $3.29 in gas stations in the city and in surrounding areas.

The high gas prices affect the normality in students’ lives.

Jessica Binhack, a junior at Saint Mary’s, lives on campus but keeps her 1999 Mercury Mountaineer at Saint Mary’s for social purposes. Having to pay almost $60 to fill her tank, Binhack admits that gas prices have “definitely affected” how much she drives.

“If prices weren’t so high, I would go off-campus more,” said Binhack.

Binhack is not the only student frustrated with the gas prices. Also feeling the strain are off-campus students or students who need their cars to commute to off-campus employment.

Brian Stein, a senior at Notre Dame, resides on Washington St. and commutes to campus six or seven times every week. Even after severely restricting his car use, Stein pays approximately $8 each week commuting to campus.

“I have hit my limit on how much I will pay for gas,” Stein said.

Saint Mary’s senior Mary Buehl lives on campus but needs her car to travel to her off-campus work study job at the Robinson Center, approximately three miles from campus. She also drives the seven miles to Prairie Vista, a local elementary school, to complete her required student teaching coursework. Buehl uses her 1999 Ford Escort at least five times per week, using it three days to travel to work and twice to teach. Though frustrated with using almost one half gallon of gas every day completing her required coursework, Buehl has not been able to organize a successful carpool.

Some students, however, have not allowed the prices to impede their lives. Dozens of enthusiastic students headed east over the weekend to support the Irish football team in their opening game against the University of Pittsburgh.

For some students, the more than six-hour drive meant spending nearly $100 on gasoline, though many students were not deterred by the high cost.

Senior Kevin Sommers and three friends split the $50 it took to fuel the tank of his Ford Grand Marquis to and from Pittsburgh.

Like Sommers, Bridget Green, a junior at Saint Mary’s, spent nearly $75 on gas over the weekend, paying an average of $3.56 per gallon, she said.

While Sommers and Green represent the dozens of eager Irish fans willing to trail the team out of state, both agree that they would definitely reconsider attending another out-of-state game due to the cost of gas.

Many people in South Bend are frustrated with the high prices, as they cannot afford to continue their daily routines. For some, the frustration lies in the less frequent trips to the mall or to their favorite bar and more trips to the ATM.