As if the over consumption of coffee for sleep-deprived college students didn’t already put a damper on their wallets, try tossing in an additional 60 to 90 cents each time they purchase a dairy milk alternative.
It might not seem like much at first, but these charges — that feel like penalties — quickly add up for someone who chooses not to consume dairy, either for health, religious or dietary reasons.
Whenever a student decides to purchase a cup of coffee or tea at the various coffee shops on campus, dairy milk alternatives cost extra.
Loyola’s cafes and dining halls currently only offer soymilk as a dairy milk alternative, and it’s the same soymilk at Nina’s Cafe at the Water Tower Campus and the Connections Cafe in Mundelein.
Silk, the soymilk brand that Loyola carries, costs an extra 60 cents at any of the campus’s cafes. In the dining halls, Silk soymilk is available free of charge.
But students who don’t have meal plans and cannot access the dining halls are stuck paying the additional charge at campus cafes.
Charges for dairy milk alternatives may seem miniscule, but as a university that prides itself on being as accommodating and accepting as possible for its students, Loyola should stop charging extra for dairy milk alternatives and start carrying other options such as almond and coconut milk.
I’m a vegan, so I choose not to consume any animal products, including dairy. But even before going vegan, I always enjoyed almond milk lattes or coconut milk cappuccinos.
Just because I am a vegan who chooses not to consume animal products doesn’t mean that I have excess money floating around in my wallet to spend on non-dairy milk charges. The same goes for someone who is lactose intolerant who biologically cannot consume dairy.
For students who cannot or choose not to consume dairy milk, it feels as though we are being punished for a dietary substitution.
It feels somewhat like an economic discrimination. No, I’m not referring to the type of discrimination where a non-dairy milk drinker wouldn’t be served at a cafe because of race, gender or ethnicity.
I’m describing an economic discrimination where we have to pay extra for something that aligns with our ethical values regarding our health, our religious beliefs or our dietary restrictions.
To truly value a customer is to take into consideration all their wants and needs, and offer everyone an equal opportunity to exert their choice and purchasing power in the free market.
On average, the price for a gallon of whole milk in January 2017 was $3.32, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and a 1.5 gallon bulk-sized box of almond milk, just one of the many types of dairy milk alternatives, costs $10.
No doubt is there a price point difference between the two. Some could argue that it would be too costly for Loyola to provide additional dairy milk alternatives while also ridding of the 60 cents charge.
Nonetheless, it doesn’t take an economist to figure out that charging extra for dairy milk alternatives is a money grab. It also reflects poorly on how a company treats customers who choose not to or cannot drink dairy when the economic value of a dollar is the same for all.
If the university can’t absorb the approximate $3 price difference of stocking more dairy milk alternatives while dropping the 60 cents charge, then that signals a larger issue within the school’s budget and finances.
Going forward, Loyola should remove the 60 cents dairy milk alternative charge, if not highly consider the motion.
After all, I don’t see the school charging more money for a whole wheat bagel than a plain bagel.