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Commuter students try to cope with pressure at the pump

By: Lauren Orlando, Contributing Reporter

Remember when gas prices were as low as $2.50 per gallon for regular, unleaded gasoline? The price per gallon of that grade of gas in River Forest is now more than $4.19. With gas prices rapidly increasing, Dominican students are feeling the pressure at the pump.

Commuters and residents are concerned and frustrated with rising gas prices. They are desperate to find ways to cut back on spending for gas or to make more money to pay for it.

“I have two jobs besides going to school; one of my jobs just pays for gas alone,” Brett Frangella, a senior commuter, said

Frangella drives a Toyota Camry and lives about an hour away in Fox River Grove.

“I am driving six hours a week just to school and back, and that is not including any other activity I do throughout the week,” Frangella said.

College students already have to pay for loans, tuition and textbooks. Gas prices are just another expense to add to their many costs and stress level.

“I am really stressed all the time, and I have to pack my schedule into three days so I don’t have to drive,” Frangella said

Lenny Cunzalo, a junior, has to “bum off his parents for gas money” when he goes back home to Marengo.

Cunzalo said he wishes he could go home more often during the school year, but he would rather not spend all the money he has for gas.

There is not much anyone can do about the jump in gas prices.

“It’s a new lifestyle and everyone is just going to have to learn to deal with,” Cunzalo said.

One possible alternative is that Dominican could lower the stress for commuters and teachers by adding more online classes.

“More comprehensive online classes would be beneficial,” Frangella said.

If more online classes were available, commuters and teachers would not have to drive to school as often, saving gas and money.

“Online classes really could be something to promote,” Bill Dlugokienski, associate director of Student Involvement said. “If the classes are appropriate, it could be great.”

Student Involvement is trying to better accommodate students in light of the gas price issue.

“We are looking into discount programs for CTA passes, more free events with food, and also a new commuter meal plan,” Dlugokienski said.

For now, Dominican students have to cope with the pressure at the pump.

Dlugokienski is not sure why gas prices have increased so much, but he said he is not happy about it.

“Sometimes I think we are being swindled,” Dlugokienski said

There are a lot of factors that may inflate the price of gasoline.

“The turmoil in the Middle East has pushed oil prices over $100 per barrel and Chicago just switched to a summer-blend gasoline,” Beth Mosher, director of public affairs for AAA, said.

A summer-blend gasoline costs more, but it also produces fewer emissions.

While prices are high, drivers can save gas using a few methods.

“One way students can improve gas mileage is to ‘slow down,’” Mosher said. “Driving above the speed limit causes a car’s engine to work harder and consume more gas.”

Her advice is to get frequent vehicle maintenance, including inflating tires, making sure fluid levels are good and getting the oil changed regularly.

Despite some people’s expectations, Mosher said she does not see gas prices reaching $5 a gallon.

“Saying that gas prices will reach $5 by the end of summer is presumptuous and irresponsible,” Mosher said.

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