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No taxation without extravagant benefits

Credit: Jessica Thurston/Art Editor Credit: Jessica Thurston/Art Editor
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I recently informed two of my friends, who have been holed up living under a rock studying for Experimental Bio-Organic Molecular Chemistry or something, that they were planning to tax us college students for being college students. I asked them what they thought.

My friends, who have the unearthly ability to insert information in their heads without sleeping, said that maybe now was not the best time to have an intelligent debate; they were exhausted and had been thinking a bit too hard about molecular biophysics to think about the fact that we might be getting screwed. I insisted we have this conversation.

After clearing our heads, we decided that we were strongly opposed to the 1 percent tax on our tuition. Our main complaint was that the reasoning for the tax was not legitimate. We definitely didn’t see ourselves as “free riders,” supposedly benefiting from the city’s infrastructure and offerings at no cost.

“We bring the city so much commerce!” my friend, whom we shall call Ronald Weasley, exclaimed. We then discussed how the colleges in the area attract so many students, thereby bringing along a fortune’s worth in “edutainment” spending, including the army of sleepy children willing to pay $4.50 for a double-shot latte. It was all a big conspiracy! They work us hard for this very purpose!

I pointed out that we do get nice benefits, like the cheap fries at Fuel and Fuddle at a ridiculous time at night. Half-off deserves credit for being totally on the ball for designing itself to benefit college students, unlike the tax, which imposes a punishment for being an undergraduate and ironically penniless.

This then led me to think that if they’re calling us free riders and end up taxing us for riding a little too freely in the Carnegie Mellon bubble that is basically composed of going to class and back (wild!), we should get more benefits for officially being the city’s residents.

We should get beyond half-off and get three-quarters-off. We should get a giant elevated walkway that runs the length of Forbes for when water pipes burst. We should get free pierogies and ketchup. I want a bouquet of flowers every time I land at the airport. Each student should get a Segway for when the buses don’t run on time. Every time I walk into Crepes Parisiennes or Lulu’s I should get a proverbial pat-on-the-back for being an awesome citizen and supporting the city’s locally-owned eateries, maybe even a free topping on a crepe.

Hell, if I’m paying a 1 percent tuition tax, I expect not only extravagant benefits, but a feel-good high from contributing to the city all the time.
If they’re going to tax us, they’d better watch out: We’re going to free ride a lot harder.