Posted on: April 1, 2022 Posted by: Glacier Staff Comments: 0

Photo by Marcus Collins, edited by Sarah Schudt

By Nick Stulga, News Editor

Psychology major Rose Tharakan says her sister’s car was stolen recently on her college campus. When it was eventually returned, she joked that the perpetrator “couldn’t afford the gas prices so he gave it back.”

Although she is trying hard to make light of the situation, Tharakan is astounded by how much gas costs now.

“My heart feels like a chunk of it breaks off every time I fill up,” she said.

She is not the only Moraine Valley student feeling the harsh effects of an inflation rate that has increased nearly sevenfold since the start of pandemic, pushing up the prices of everyday essentials like food, used cars, and especially gasoline.

“It’s getting harder to go to school,” said Jenna Mercado, who is studying to become an English professor. “Every week I have to pay up to $70 to fill up my gas halfway or almost full. It was $100 to get my gas full in Chicago.”

My heart feels like a chunk of it breaks off every time I fill up.”

Rose Tharakan, psychology student

Political science professor Kevin Navratil attributes the recent increases to two main factors: “supply chain disruption from COVID and increase in demand, in part due to some of the stimulus efforts we’ve had.”

The ongoing war in Ukraine could have dire effects on the world’s food supply, pushing up costs even more, according to mathematics professor Jason King, who has been studying the situation.

“Potential consequences of the conflict could be immense and in many ways are already affecting the world,” said King. “Ukraine and Russia together ship around 30 percent of the world’s wheat exports and 12 percent of the world’s traded caloric intake globally.”

Navratil notes that Russia and Ukraine are both large corn producers, which could contribute to an increase in food prices.

The increased gas prices are due in part to the United States’ decision to impose sanctions on Russia, which is one of the biggest exporters of oil globally.

“It’s really unprecedented to see the amount of sanctions on Russia and their oil supply,” said Navratil. “It’s tough for the world to account for one of the biggest producers of oil.” Navratil says the United States’ decision to “cut them off” is going to have “an effect on the supply.” 

The cost of commuting may cause more people to stay home for work to avoid going to the pump, Navratil said. And these prices may not go away anytime soon. 

“We’re going to have high inflation for the rest of the year,” said Navratil. “The Federal Reserve has signaled that they are going to start lowering interest rates. When you see Shanghai and parts of China that are producing most of our supply chain, there’s not much the Federal Reserve can do.” Navratil predicts the higher prices will most likely last for the next year or two.

Navratil says he has felt the inflation himself: “It’s definitely been a hit to the household finances. I’m in a much better scenario than the average American. It has cost an average of $5,200 [more] for the average American household.”

It has cost an average of $5,200 [more] for the average American household.”

Kevin Navratil, political science professor

Joshua Fulton, who teaches history at Moraine, says this rise in costs reminds him of the 1970s, “where inflation rates could reach over 10 percent and we saw rising gas prices, oil embargoes, and serious transformations in political focus for the two dominant parties in the U.S.”

Meanwhile, Moraine students are finding ways to alleviate the extra costs of gas and food. 

“I try to cook food at home so I don’t spend so much money,” Mercado said.

Elementary education student Madi Gonzalez has her parents drive her and pays them back in gas money as a thank you. She also eats meals her parents prepare instead of eating out, as “it’s better overall and tastes better at home” anyway. 

Science student Geovanni Palazzolo has a different strategy for dealing with gas prices.

“I used to spend on gas, like $20, it’s like double almost,” said Palazzolo. He and his brother take turns filling up. “We just fill it half. I’d say every three days we fill up. We do that to split the cost.”

To help students who are struggling financially or having an emergency situation, such as a car breakdown, Moraine has an Emergency Assistance Fund that students can dip into for help. Shanya Gray, a Moraine counselor, says it’s designed as a “buffer or a cushion for students.”

“I had a student this week who had to get new tires,” Gray said. “There’s been homelessness we’ve had to assist. It is really helpful for them and a blessing. Gives them a little bit of hope or a chance to continue on and achieve their academic goals.”

Emergency Assistance Fund helps students

Did you know? For students struggling with an emergency financial need that could prevent them from continuing their education, Moraine Valley has an Emergency Assistance Fund.

Any student needing assistance with such a situation can contact the Counseling Development Center at Moraine at (708) 974-5722 or go to the S building, room S202.