Did you know that you could buy a ticket to New York for one dollar? How about the fact that you could easily get a full meal for no more than two? Surely you knew that one cigarette is all anyone needs to keep warm for the duration of winter.

If you are like me, you probably did not know any of these things. However, since beginning my studies here at Eastman, I have been enlightened about these and the multitude of things you can do with little more than three dollars. My enlightenment has not come from an economics professor, but instead from the numerous panhandlers that roam the area between 100 and 26 Gibbs.

I certainly never realized how much my bank account could benefit from becoming friends with these people that many revere as vagrants. I thought that I was getting a real bargain by flying on Jet Blue to New York over fall break for $100. However, as my friend the panhandler told me, if you are ever stranded in Rochester and need to get down to the city, you only need a dollar to buy a ticket.

I definitely did not need to spend all of that money on a wool coat, when taking up smoking for a few months would have been cheaper. Because of the amount of money that I lost ignoring Rochester’s panhandlers, I have come up with what I think to be an ingenious idea.

Once a year, the student body should sponsor a Panhandler’s Picnic in a local parks. The benefits to the student body would be unprecedented. With all of the panhandlers gathered together, the Panhandling Association of Rochester would be able to share all of the bargains that they have discovered that we have not.

This would save the student body a great deal of money. For example, if students saved $99 on a ticket to New York for fall break every year for four years, that would be nearly $400. That’s more than enough to cover the mandatory annual student activity fee of $80 each year unless, of course, SA recommended raising that fee.

Secondly, since PAR could share all of its information once a year, there would be no need for members of the group to stop and ask students for money or talk about one of their many bargains. On average, a panhandler accosts me twice a day. Assuming each encounter lasts a minimum of one minute, that’s at least 14 minutes a week lost. Multiply by 16 weeks in a semester — that’s a loss of more than three hours per semester.

While this does not seem like a lot, these extra hours would let me to hold doors open for people and learn that Nov. 11th is Veteran’s Day or which Tuesday in November is Election Day since, as one writer said, as we are sucked into the abyssal black hole of 26 Gibbs, we rude people at Eastman tend to forget the courtesies and common knowledge that any second-grade educated student knows.

Lastly, I know that lately, I have been wasting precious energy trying to walk faster than some of the more fleet-footed panhandlers. This wasted energy compounds exponentially and, in addition to my rigorous Pilates training, my legs become fatigued. By Saturday night, I find myself unable to dance for as long as I want at Tilt.

For me, this is perhaps the most serious problem, and many others have complained about the same thing. With the picnic, I would no longer have to worry about being chased by members of PAR, and could maintain my normal, relaxed walking pace. This would ensure that my legs are fully rested for dancing or any other activities that require great control of the leg muscles.

Without question, holding a picnic for PAR has financial, physical and intellectual benefits. Feeding the hungry of Rochester is something that everyone supports.

Sure, doing so might cost a few thousand dollars but, really, another thousand out of the astronomical amount we pay to be here isn’t really that much. Besides, the amount of money saved by students in the long run would more than make up for the original investment. I can’t see why no one else has thought of it.



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