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18 November 2005
Fueling Around: Students Feel Pinch as Holiday Travel Season Approaches

By Leslie Gober
JSU News Bureau

Although gasoline prices have declined in recent weeks, the post-Hurricane Katrina price-per-gallon continues to take a bite out of students' budgets, especially as the holiday travel season approaches.

Many Jacksonville State University students and employees say they are continually forced to come up with more creative solutions to deal with the cost increase.

Following Hurricane Katrina, gas prices rose as high as $3 per gallon locally. Students began to conserve by driving less, riding bikes, and walking to classes. Some students said recently they are paying between $50 and $100 a month extra, depending on whether they commute. Some said they could not afford to drive their cars at all.

Now that gas prices are slowly inching downward, students are feeling some relief, but everyone interviewed for this story expressed a desire that prices return to "normal."

"I can't go anywhere because of the prices," said Cody Hale of White Plains, a sophomore majoring in communication.

Formerly an avid golfer, Hale said he has given up traveling to pursue his hobby and can

Cody Hale

no longer afford to go on dates because of the approximately $60 extra he must find in his budget for fuel.

Congressional hearings, which included testimony from oil company executives, "were more of a publicity event to give citizens a false sense of security," said Hale. "Congress has expressed no plans of action beyond simple media interviews to get constituents off their backs."

Kim Wells, music department secretary, said, "I have been planning my appointments more efficiently to save on mileage, and I've been combining my errands."

Mrs. Wells, of Alexandria, said it used to cost her $12 to $15 dollars per week to drive to work, but now she figures it costs $120 dollars per month.

Kim Wells

"I am glad that our federal government is talking about taking a stand against the oil companies who raised the prices of gasoline excessively during Hurricane Katrina," said Wells. "Hardworking middle class Americans struggle enough as it is to try to make ends meet."

Erin Robertson of Piedmont, a junior majoring in communication, said, "It is more expensive to visit friends in Georgia."

Robertson said she felt it was constructive that Congress was asking oil companies to explain their high profits, but she also thought the government was using the hearings as a way to look better following the FEMA controversy.

"A set price on gasoline would be great. But I just do not think that it will

Erin Robertson

ever happen," said Robertson. "As long as the government makes sure that the companies are charging fair prices, that is all we can ask for. I think it would be great if the gasoline companies were forced to donate all the money they made off raising prices to Hurricane Katrina relief organizations."

As painful as it is for some, JSU students and faculty seem to be slowly adjusting to the higher prices while hoping for a "return to normal."

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