When I first heard that Texas A&M planned to remain open to students, I thought I would give COVID–19 a big old traffic finger and continue living on campus. I was planning on boldly walking in public with my head held high, burning the remainder of my meal plan and kicking back with the boys at Zachry to study. That all changed when A&M announced it would be giving refunds for students who canceled their housing contract and meal plans.
My dad texted me yesterday telling me to consider taking advantage of the refund. At first I rolled my eyes and thought, “Yeah, right. I just got here, I’m not leaving anytime soon.” But then I saw how much money A&M would return us. And sadly, I cannot turn down $2,000. I never thought my freshman year would end early because I needed money.
Leaving Aggieland is the last thing I want to do – A&M is my home. I came here to escape my hometown, Lubbock, but it seems that I am doomed to quarantine myself there. What boils my blood the most is the fact that I made a financially-motivated decision, and I know many other Americans find themselves in similar situations.
One of my family members has offered to give monthly financial support provided that I hold down a part-time job. However, with many non-essential businesses closing, finding work has been difficult to say the least. Part of the reason I need to take advantage of the refund is because I can’t make up that money in part-time work right now. And with unemployment rising, it will be more difficult to secure a job.
I can’t survive off of Daddy’s money forever – I need to start supporting myself to pay rent next semester, student loans when I graduate and food costs while I live in College Station. Even though health experts have warned Trump against restarting the economy, the president has declared he wants to restart the economy by Easter. Even though reopening non-essential businesses may cause COVID–19 cases to skyrocket, I will probably find myself entering the workforce because I need the income.
COVID–19 has revealed the greatest flaw in our economic system – corporate profits trump workers’ interests. The senate just approved a $500 billion corporate bailout package. What good will this money do for corporations while the economy is stalled? People won’t be flying on planes anytime soon. It’s just a matter of time before corporations come crawling back to the feds asking for more bailout money. And I think we all know that both Democrats and Republicans will leap to their aid.
While many workers are receiving a one-time $1,200 check, that won’t be enough to pay rent, mortgages, utilities, or food bills. My family won’t even see those checks since my father’s income is greater than the $75,000 cap. When did we decide that Americans making around $100,000 were rich and not middle class? It’s not like my dad and I can spend money willy-nilly as we please. Sure, we do have more money than many other families, but we aren’t rich by any stretch of the imagination. And if I don’t start working, my dad and I will run out of money trying to pay back loans before I graduate.
I’m at a point where there are no good options. While my dad can continue working from home, that won’t be enough to sustain us in the long run. If the economy continues to stay shut down, COVID–19 cases will drop but I’ll have to delay employment and risk having fewer resources if the situation deteriorates. If I start working, however, COVID–19 cases may significantly increase and people could die if we restart the economy. All I can do right now is get what money I can and hope for the best while preparing for the worst.
Considering how few people are on campus, I feel safer at A&M than in Lubbock. I have fewer social interactions when I go out for exercise, I trust the people working to maintain proper sanitation techniques and there haven’t been any confirmed COVID–19 cases on campus yet. But, money is one of the most powerful motivators in our society. So, I will be saying goodbye to Aggieland until August so I can have money to survive a few weeks if the economy remains stalled.