The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



Stop wasting my money

Letter to the Editor | Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Recently, I had to write a substantial amount of my own money over to the University, and now feel entitled to complain about different objects that the University spends its money on.

I presently live on campus, so I am forced to have a meal plan. The way the meal plan is set up for those on campus, as everyone knows, is a single, large, lump sum payment for 14 meals a week with flex points or 21 meals a week. It may seem like a minor and inconsequential item to complain about, but I feel it is representative about how the University spends much of its money on frivolous efforts.

I am speaking about fair trade coffee being bought at the dining hall. I am not going to argue the costs and benefits of free trade versus fair trade coffee efforts, but feel free to assume that the cost of free trade is less than the cost of fair trade coffee. I do not drink coffee, but do know that the difference in product is negligible, so it is not similar to skimping on different health standards for other items.

The biggest problem I have with this policy is that an interest group is able to spend other people’s money on their own ethical qualms. As stated earlier, I do not drink coffee, yet I am in essence subsidizing people’s conscience. If I did drink coffee (and I am suggesting this exact alternative), two pots next to each other would be satisfactory. One would be free trade which would have the cost paid for by the meal plan. The other pot would be the fair trade coffee that would have some cost involved in it, which would equal the difference in price to the consumer. The amount of the price difference is not significant, it could be $0.25, $0.10, $0.05 or any amount of money. What is important is that those with ethical issues with free trade coffee would be able to buy their fair trade coffee, without impeding on the price of those without the same set of ethics.

This way people can make their own informed decisions about what coffee they choose, and that those who are more concerned with price are able to not be forced to subsidize others’ conscience.

Purchasing various goods with a set of particular ethics and ethical results is a very important aspect of consumerism, but holding others hostage to your own set of values by making them supplement your conscience is entirely irresponsible and an atrocious way to show people the true consequences of their choices. Instead of having to pay the extra money to purchase goods that satisfy their own particular set of values, the money is passed off onto the greater good. Please lend this recommendation your attention and concern.

Do make sure to recognize that this is an argument about whether a particular subset of the student body’s ethics should be bought with the entire student body’s money, not a particular argument for or against fair trade coffee. For the latter, feel free to email me at [email protected]

Dan Kamp


Keenan Hall

Sept. 3