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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

UMass Boston’s bookstore should offer cheaper prices on items

One of the biggest staples of a typical college campus is a bookstore. For students attending UMass Boston, the school was thoughtful to provide the bookstore in a convenient place. Commuter students have a long way to go—about 100 feet off the Route 1 or Route 3 bus—to step foot into the store, and students pass by it when they travel from University Hall to Campus Center and vice versa. Of course, the first week of the semester provides a hectic atmosphere for the store, with UMass Boston dwellers rushing to purchase their textbooks and other daily items needed for a less stressful school year, often causing lines consisting of dozens in the process. As the year goes on though, the crowd that makes good use of the bookstore dies down; not many students are in the bookstore simultaneously, and a valid reason for that may be due to their prices.
It’s no question that the bookstore is a substantial resource for students here at UMass Boston. But for some, the prices provided, whether it be for food or everyday supplies, could make a case for students to go to Star Market down the street, or take the T to CVS or Target. Granted, some of the items at the bookstore are going for retail price; for example, Apple chargers and wired headphones are both $30 and $19, respectively. Some of the apparel provided at the store goes for reasonable prices too: One t-shirt in particular is priced at $22, which is a pretty good price considering the prices of other shirts online from name-brand websites can be much more expensive. Other prices though make it seem like the trip on the Route 1 bus and walking to Star Market for food or hygiene items is indeed worth the lower prices.
Some of the prices seen in the bookstore can be ridiculously marked up which, to be frank, is unfair for college students knowing how much effort they put into living a sustainable life by balancing school and work on top of having to worry about the cost of tuition each semester. A resident of the UMass Boston dorms, or any student for that matter, should not have to pay over $7 for toothpaste or over $5 for deodorant at a place that’s supposed to be the home for all they would need to live a happy life at college. The price of a value-size bag of snacks should not be overpriced at $3.50 either, for example. Why pay for a small bag of cheddar jack Cheez-its for over $3 when a normal box of them has a two for $6 deal at a supermarket down the street? Better yet, that same supermarket can provide most of the snacks provided at the bookstore at a cheaper price, and above all else, the toiletries and electronics provided both in online retail stores, and even stores within a five-mile radius of the school, provide far cheaper alternatives, too. Expensive items may not even be the biggest problem for the bookstore though. One of the more frustrating aspects the bookstore holds—and on the record, this is a problem for some vending machines provided at the school as well—is the false advertisement of prices.
One of the alternatives to using the bookstore to buy food or drinks can be to use the large number of vending machines located all throughout campus that are, more often than not, functional. Though some prices in the machine may be questionable, such as some drinks having a price tag of $2 or bigger bags of candy priced at $3.80, for the most part, a wide variety of the food the machines hold is rational. However, it’s not necessarily the pricing itself that is the problem for these machines, but rather holding true to the promise that these prices are reliable, which ties back into the fact that the bookstore has this same problem. When purchasing a drink from one of the vending machines on campus, if somebody were to input one of the labels, the machine would immediately show the price of the drink the person typed into the machine, which in this case is $1.75. After purchasing said drink, one would soon come to realize that the vending machine later charges $2.10 to their card instead of the $1.75 promised. So a word of advice: Use cash for the vending machine—if that even works and it doesn’t ask for more funds on the spot. The bookstore poses this same problem: A bottle of gum may be advertised as $3.99, but the student would pay $4.99 instead, and that should never be the case.
The bookstore is vital for students, and more importantly, it can be argued that it’s even more vital for the students who live in the dorms or across the street on Columbia Point. By any means necessary, the bookstore should provide cheaper prices for students because these people should not have to travel outside of campus for the sake of finding the same items at a fraction of the cost, or in some cases, wait a few days for an online order of electronics to come in the mail when the bookstore could have provided more suitable, better prices in the first place. The same goes for food, beverages and hygienic products as well; there’s no point in purchasing food or toiletries from the bookstore if any student, living on campus or off, could take the bus to JFK/UMass and walk over to Star Market to buy the same items in a bigger bulk at a much cheaper price.

About the Contributor
Nick Collins, Sports Editor