Gas up, student morale down

The difficulties abroad causing increases in gas prices have students scrambling for cash and considering carpooling. | Jasmine Umenyi/The Daily Cougar

You’re sitting in your car wondering whether or not you can tolerate the slight discomfort of mid to upper 70 degree weather without turning on the gas drainer that is your air conditioner.

Every drop of that Texas average $3.42 per gallon gasoline hinges on overseas affairs. The prices have been leaving many motorists feeling helpless, both in their cars and at the pump.

Prices have seen a plateau over the past week following the disastrous earthquake and tsunami that ravaged Japan and its nuclear power plants. But prices are still around 40 cents a gallon higher than they were a month ago — the highest they’ve been in three years.

“I am worried and irritated by gas prices,” said Gabriel Durham, an anthropology senior. “They have risen due to civil unrest spreading across the Middle East and West Africa. This has caused uncertainty in the economy of those regions that has caused prices to escalate. Also, the Gas Tax is not being handled properly in D.C.”

Along with British and French forces, America began bombing key Libyan defense targets over the weekend, which has only added to the chaos and revolutions that are brewing in the Middle East.

When asked about gas-saving methods, UH students were open to carpooling, but hesitant about taking public transportation.

“It’s getting ridiculous,” said Quinton Melonson, human foods and nutrition sophomore. “So much so that if, for whatever reason, a carpool is not an option, the unreliable Houston metro has become the next best thing.”

Durham has had to make changes and hasn’t ruled out moving out of Houston all together.

“I usually have a weekly/bi-weekly drive out to the country or some park because I have to get out of the city at times,” Durham said. “I have been giving those up to save gas. Carpooling is an option, though I would like to get out of Houston. Houston’s infrastructure makes it impossible to have any good or effective public transportation because of our population density, so I would like to move to a city that does have good public transportation until an electric car is affordable.”

The gas prices can be attributed to a large drop in demand from Japan after their disaster.

According to an LA Times article by Ronald D. White, refineries off the west coast will likely be tapped by Japan as a supply source after its nuclear power plants took tremendous damage. This will likely result in less fuel available in the U.S., and with demand increasing around the world, $5 per gallon could be on the horizon by 2012.

Whether it’s carpooling, Metro, going out less or turning off the AC, money-saving ideas for students who already have to contend with rising tuition, rent, cell phone bills and car notes are a constant subject of conversation, and it is unlikely the discussion will die down in the near future.

Chemistry junior Chris Punch has an idea that can help the wallet and make us a cooler city: “Ride a motorcycle to school.”

Additional reporting by Taylor McGilvray, Moniqua Sexton, Jasmine Umenyi and Tess Livingston.


  • The editor should be fired for letting this article be in the paper. First, the people they quoted don't know too much about how the prices or why the prices of oil go up. why isn't there anything about oil speculation in this article? That is the likely reason why the oil prices are high. Wall street is at it again. Maybe the writers need to get the video about the bailout from Professor Howard because it explains a lot. The things happening in Japan and Libya isn't too relevent. The big companies on wall street clearly know when to speculate so the People of this country think the oil prices are high becuase of what is happening overseas. So the supply and demand crap and the crap the writers quaoted should not be in this article. Look up oil speculation and what it is, then write another article educating the public on what it is and how it increases oil prices. This article gets off topic 2-3 times also.

  • Living on campus is a better alternative to all of those options!

    I get to sit back and relax as commuters deal with traffic, gas prices and parking. Stop complaining and live on campus. It helps you, your university, and your community.

    • Yeah, live on-campus and get your room broken into or wake up while some thug fondles you? Ah, no thanks!

      UH is already in a ghetto and living on one would be a nightmare. Plus, the rooms are disgusting and some have serious issues that are never addressed.

      • Wow. You have clearly never lived on campus and if you have, I am extremely sorry for your bad experience.

        Though UH may be in the "ghetto" (if you consider a predominately African American area ghetto), I have never felt unsafe at night walking from my room to the cafeteria or library. If you ever do feel unsafe, it's pretty simple to call security for a free ride.

        The rooms are actually quite nice compared to other residence halls on other campuses(I've seen them). Moody and Quad are even getting renovated. Cougar VIllage is beautiful. On campus apartments are great. Cougar Place will soon be replaced with new housing.

        I am deeply saddened that you feel on campus housing is subpar to other Houston housing. Living on campus is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. You should try it!

        It's good for the university to have a high on-campus population. I assume you will be graduating from here and I hope that you care enough about this school to help make it better by not discouraging people to live on campus.

        • First off william it is not possible for many students for many reasons. I'll name a few for you. One could be for many that it is more fiscally responsible and feasible for many to live at home with parents than to pay for the extra costs of living on campus. For others it is cheaper to live off campus than living on campus. For others it could be that we need to live closer to our jobs that pay the bills or because they own a home and it isn't possible to just up and move. Or others are married and well that just isn't going to happen. If your single and can afford the costs to live on campus then by all means do so but a majority of the student population that isn't an option.

  • There are a lot of ignorant and selfish people on the UH campus, and WhyNotBike? is King among them. Not everyone of the tens of thousands of students on campus can live on the grounds. Not everyone can afford to buy an overpriced and unproven electric car, or feel safe riding a bike "in the ghetto," as JG would say. Not anyone of the platoon of ignorant UH reporters of this bilious story bothered to go outside the box. If President Bush were in office his name would have been mentioned ten times, and blaming him for not allowing drilling in the Gulf following the accident. In the meantime, the Obama Regime is in South America helping Brazil with underwater storage of oil while the US providers are barred from helping cure itself from high gas prices. That's the liberal left for you; and worthless UH reporters.

  • Have you really riden in houston for starters? It is almost suicidal to do so even out in the suburbs for starters. Second I don't know about you but unless I want to spend time in the shower when I reach my destination I don't think my class mates and co workers would appreciate me very much. Finally distance is another major factor. Many of us live at least 15-30 miles from the school. I don't know about some but the last time I rode that distance it took me more than an hour to do 30 miles (and most of that had hardly any lights to stop at). I think you miss understand the article. For those of us who really do the driving to get an education we have very few options. Either carpooling if our schedule allows it, attempt to ride the metro buses. That is it.

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