Another summer passed, and while the parking lots will soon be full, pockets of CSUN students may only be half full or half empty, depending on whom you ask.
CSUN is often labeled a commuter school, and these days, commuting means driving, and driving equals gas. The record-high gas prices the nation is facing adds another source of stress for students who are starting a new semester.
“Twenty-five dollars used to last three to four days, maybe a week,” said David Sigala, sociology graduate student. “Now, that’s nothing.”
While he rides comfortably in his 2002 Cadillac Escalade, he does admit he has to budget rather carefully these days, as he is paid once a month, and $70 to $80 tanks of gas add up fast.
For some students, compensating for rising gas prices means sacrificing some of the finer things in life.
“Instead of food or clothes, I have to save the rest for gas,” said Melody Guzman, senior journalism major, as he clutched a Burger King bag.
Many students commuting longer distances to campus are also working full time with a sizeable portion of their income going toward paying for gas.
Marco Gonzalez, a transfer student from Oxnard College, offered these words of advice: “Don’t get stuck in traffic.”
Despite driving a four-cylinder car, Guzman sometimes goes through a quarter of a tank of gas on his commute to CSUN from Ventura County.
The “one-quarter” figure also happens to be the fraction of his monthly income that goes toward gas. While gas prices in Ventura County may be lower than those near campus, they are not by much, Guzman said.
As expected, gas prices will increase over Labor Day weekend in anticipation of holiday travelers.
Albert Goe, an eight-year employee of the Arco gas station at Plummer Street and Corbin Avenue, said gas prices are expected to decrease following the holiday weekend, but only by a few cents at the most.
Even with higher prices, Goe said it is business as usual at his station. On a typical afternoon, the station is packed with drivers stopping to get gas on the way home from work. Some people buy $8 worth, others buy $50 worth; the bottom line is that they’re still paying for gas.
This also appears to be the attitude of a number of the CSUN students. The prices may be going up, but most are unwilling to walk unless it is part of their normal routine.
It does not mean they are not keeping an eye out for the best deals, however. The hot spot for the lowest prices around campus is said to be at stations near Nordhoff Street and I-405, a short drive from campus.
“I’m a photographer, so (the increase in gas prices) affects what I do. It affects my business,” said Tyrone Washington, English graduate student.
Washington works for a glamour shot company, but also does his own photography independently to earn extra income.
As a result, he is on the road quite often.
“I have to work more hours just to (afford) to get from place to place,” he said.
Prices at various gas stations, even stations less than a mile apart, may be affected by what is known as zone pricing. This practice involves refiners and wholesalers charging more for gas where demand is high ,and less where competition and demand is lower.
Other factors that influence prices are the amount of traffic in a given area, as well as the income level of the area surrounding the individual stations.
Michael Salseda can be reached at email@example.com