Sep 5, 2006

Students feel the pain at the pump

by Joshua King

As most drivers are aware, the heat outside was not the only thing burning up this summer. Wherever your destination might have been, traveling in a motor vehicle inevitably involved burning some gasoline. Unfortunately, as the summer temperatures steadily rose, so also did the price of gas nationwide. People especially began to feel pain at the pump when prices soared past $3 a gallon.

Thankfully, with summer quickly drawing to a close, gas prices are finally beginning their descent back to normalcy. In fact, they are falling faster than most predicted. Fred Rozell of the Oil Price Information Service (OPIS) was quoted this past Tuesday in USA Today as saying that by Thanksgiving, people will be paying closer to $2 for regular unleaded gasoline. As of Sept. 1, the average price per gallon for Virginia was $2.65, according to the OPIS. This should be good news to Liberty students settling back into Lynchburg for the fall semester.   

Despite the fact that gas prices are getting slightly cheaper by the day, the feelings of students across campus are fairly mixed when it comes to the cost of a fill-up in Lynchburg. And it really depends on where they call home.

Some are more positive than others.     

Brent Rose, a freshman from Pennsylvania, believes the local prices are actually not so bad. “I think prices are better down here, but they are still unreasonably high,” Rose said.

Sophomore Jonathan Edds agrees. “I think prices around here are terrible compared to what they should be, but in Kansas they were worse,” he said.

Anthony Hernandez, also a sophomore, is thankful for the change. “In Jacksonville, Florida, it’s about 20 cents higher than it is here. Everywhere I drive around here, I always think, ‘Wow, that’s really cheap.’”

Other students like Dave Allison, are not as encouraged by what gas stations are posting. “All around I think it’s outrageous,” he said. “I have a Toyota Camry and it took close to $40 to fill it up. It’s just ridiculous.”

 

Allison pointed out that many students at Liberty struggle financially under the stress of having to pay the higher prices to fuel their vehicles. “I’m glad I have a job. I know some guys who can’t find a job at school, so they can’t afford to run their cars sometimes.”

Joshua Bryant felt very much the same way. Bryant is a sophomore at Liberty and is a student worker in the School of Aviation. “I don’t see how those students are making it who are not receiving any paychecks,” he said.

He says there have been some occasions during the few days before he receives a paycheck when he has had to decide on purchasing gas or getting lunch.

Bryant also has other gasoline expenses to think about. As an aviation student, he is required to pay to fuel the aircraft he rents for his aviation courses.

“For me, I have to pay for two types of gas, so the higher prices are really affecting me,” he said. “Sometimes I want to go out and log more hours with my flight time, but I’m not able to because I can’t afford the gas to fly.”

For some people, though, the price of gas is almost a necessary evil. “I definitely don’t like paying for it,” said Sarah Whiddon, a senior from Lynchburg. “It would be nice if it wasn’t so expensive, but I’ve kind of gotten used to it.”

That is exactly what Dr. Robert Rencher, Associate Professor of Business, asserts is happening with the thought processes of American drivers in general.

“It seems to be that when prices go up and then they come down a little bit, we sort of get used to it,” he said. “Five years ago, we would have said, ‘Two dollars for a gallon of gasoline? The sky is falling! The world’s going to end!’ Today, we yawn at it.”

Rencher believes there is a point at which people become hesitant to spend the extra money. “When it gets to $3 a gallon, we begin to say ‘Maybe I’m not going to buy that SUV. Maybe I’m not going to take that trip I was planning on.’”

Students like senior Andrew Evans, though, still desire a little freedom with their spending. “I’m in college and I want to have some fun, but I can’t afford it when gas is so high,” he said.

Now that the price of gas is dropping, freedom may not be so far off. With a good dose of responsible spending, the money you save might just buy a little bit of fun after all. 

 

Contact Joshua King at jlking@liberty.edu.

 


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