CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (mocsnews.com)
Gas or Class
Many would consider soaring gas prices to be the current hottest topic across America today and it seems to have no end in sight.Gas prices hit a record low of $2.14 per gallon in 2016. The average gas price today is $4.99. In the last six years, the price of gasoline has more than doubled. Gas is essential in getting you to and from your home, work, school, pretty much anywhere and everywhere. In some areas of the United States, it has increased to over $5. When gas prices rise, people are having to choose whether it is worth driving. Because the prices of gas are increasing, other prices are increasing. For example, Uber drivers are not earning as much money as they used to because they are having to raise their rates to afford gas. This is affecting Chattanooga and the United States as a whole due to the fact that people are returning to work and school after almost two years of COVID restrictions. In Tennessee, the average gas price one year ago was $2.84, today it is $4.64. With people returning to their work and school after being shut down due to the pandemic, this price increase comes at a bad time.
I got the chance to speak with Catherine Figueroa, a student at UTC going into her junior year. When Figueroa began her education at UTC, all courses were 100% online. This was convenient for Figueroa because she lived 25 minutes from campus. She said, “At first I was bummed because I felt like I wouldn’t get the full college experience if I wasn’t on campus, but then I realized I didn’t have to drive down there everyday.” This last semester, she had classes 4 days a week. She now has to fill her tank up almost twice as much since driving down to her classes. Figueroa said, “I used to be able to go over three weeks without having to fill up my tank. I think I go once a week and I am paying a lot more for gas now than I used to.”
UTC could benefit from taking some type of action to create a game plan to help students and faculty combat these rising gas prices. As it looks now, gas has steadily risen over the last year, it is concerning to students and faculty as to how high the price will increase at the start of this upcoming fall semester. “I do not want to have to face the decision whether or not I should go to class”, said Kensley Parker, I student at UTC. The last thing an off campus living college student should have to worry about is making the decision of paying the price at the pump to get to campus, or skipping class and hoping for the best of copying notes from a classmate. Meredith Balthrop, a student at UTC who also lives off campus, made the decision multiple times to skip class this last semester. She said, “I could not afford to pay for gas so many times and I had to stay home because I did not want to drive my car.”
The rise in gas prices is alarming to people all around the United States, stirring up the idea that if the gas prices continue to increase, this country may be headed for a recession. What else could possibly go wrong, right? The education of students is so important, and the price of gas should not be getting in the way of that. It is crucial that UTC step up and curate a plan to help those struggling.