Senior Senator Ezra Kruger whipped out two garlic cloves at the SA Senate’s Feb. 21 meeting. One was from Walmart, the other from Hillside. The latter was 15 times more expensive.
Onscreen was a spreadsheet he prepared with 89 such comparisons, each pointing to overpricing at the student market. Kruger’s data suggests students pay an average of 2.5 times more for a product at Hillside than at Wegmans and three times more than at Walmart.
Kruger saw the pattern of overpricing as an intentional move to extract money from students.
“This is frankly ridiculous, especially because we are required to have a meal plan, and many students at the end of the year end up with extra declining and spend it at Hillside, making money for the University […] We are being robbed,” he said.
Reflecting on his own past work with Hillside pricing, junior President Sabeet Kazmi said Director of Dining Cam Schauf once suggested the high prices are due to Hillside’s lack of storage space inhibiting them from bulk ordering. Kazmi also said it was naive of himself not to push administration to find a way to sell products for cheaper.
Kruger said his analysis of the financial math suggested the problem actually does not stem from lack of bulk purchases. He met with Schauf on Feb. 22 to discuss the issue.
Kazmi also encouraged students not to buy products from Hillside and said they should take produce and milk cartons from Douglass Dining instead, as he does himself.
“No one is ever going to stop you,” Kazmi said. “And I think everyone should be doing that because it’s not wrong. You guys pay the fee to be able to eat at Douglass.”
SA also discussed committee and executive updates, progress on cultural holiday legislation, and a bill that clearly defines senate voting thresholds, among other topics. Junior Senator Sofia Troshina was absent.
During executive updates, Kazmi announced that the Medical Emergency Response Team (MERT) will be returning, likely towards the semester’s end, after the administration agreed to pay Professor Erik Rueckmann, M.D. to serve as MERT’s medical director.
During a discussion with trustee and alum Elizabeth Bruno ‘89, Kazmi and junior Vice President Rusama Haque pushed for a student representative with voting power to be present at board of trustees meetings and for SA members to be paid, Kazmi also said.
During committee updates, Campus Life Committee Chair and senior Lilly Hutton said she recommended other students for placement on the Global Celebration Committee, which is discussing flag display alternatives. Hutton announced at the last senate meeting that she is currently the only student on the committee.
Junior Senator Boris Sorokin introduced a first draft of his resolution urging the administration to give students days off for cultural holidays, but he said it will undergo significant changes to build a process for addressing the breadth of holidays that need accomodation.
Sorokin also read aloud a non-binding letter of intention addressed to Rochester colleges and universities discussing the possibility of establishing an “Intercollegiate Rochester Student Assembly” to foster collaboration between student governments in the area. It was signed by Sorokin and Monroe Community College student Daniel Moore.
Another bill was also proposed by Sorokin that defined SA voting thresholds. He said existing documents are ambiguous about when voting thresholds require proportions measured out of the total number of SA senators or just the number of senators present at a given meeting, and junior Parliamentarian Geneva Hinkson concurred.
Original drafts of the legislation were written by alum Tayfun Sahin ‘21 during his tenure as parliamentarian. Two bill versions were proposed, one with Sahin listed as the sponsor and one without, which sparked over 30 minutes of debate about whether alumni should be able to sponsor legislation.
The version with Sahin as the sponsor failed to move forward by a margin of one vote, with multiple senators abstaining and first-year senators Kate Hidalgo and Zephyr Zhao voting against it. The legislation without Sahin’s name listed as the sponsor will be voted on at the next senate meeting.
The next senate gathering will be on Feb. 28 at 8 p.m. in the Gowen Room and livestreamed on their Facebook.
Editor’s Note (02/28/2022): The original version of this article incorrectly said that only first-year senator Kate Hidalgo voted against the bill sponsored by Sahin. This has been amended to include that first-year senator Zephyr Zhao also voted against the bill.