Mark your calendars! The Colonnades dining hall recently announced that it will be serving a steak and lobster dinner on Tuesday, Sept. 12. And who isn't excited for that? Steak and lobster sounds almost better than a home-cooked meal. With Elon University’s revamped dining program, the university has just about everything we could want.
With so many nice things, it is easy to get trapped in the “Elon bubble” and forget about what is happening all around us. There is a distinct line between our perfect safe haven of privilege and the economic hardships of Alamance County. With a poverty rate of 18.9 percent, too many families do not know where their next meal is coming from.
The average yearly income of a household in Alamance County is $41,814. The cost of attending Elon this year is $46,142. These families could not afford to send their child here for even one year. Most of us come for four.
Don't get me wrong, I love Elon and the university does make efforts to help the community. With resources and outreach efforts from the Kernodle Center for Service Learning and Community Engagement, Elon provides food, education and other resources to those in need while helping students develop ethics of service.
Unfortunately, too many students do not know about these efforts. We have trapped ourselves in the bubble of our own experience on this beautiful campus. And although this campus is filled with nice things — high-end technology, free coffee on Tuesdays, a swan to admire on the lake, a free Starbucks machine in the dining hall, study programs to Disney World — we are approaching a thin line between what is nice and what is over the top. We spend a lot of time talking about privilege, yet here we are as the pinnacle of the idea.
There are people living in poverty not far beyond Elon’s perfectly manicured lawns. But most of us don't even realize it. We don't know how to help with service projects, but in reality, it is so easy to start getting involved. Elon Volunteers is always thrilled to have new hands on deck, and with programs like “Get on the Bus,” you don't even have to spend hours planning ahead. All you do is get on the BioBus on a Friday afternoon, and you will be on your way with other likeminded students to a service event. We often do not realize how much of a difference we can make, but, we do know what is for dinner in a couple of weeks.
Because for people like us, lobster is always on the menu.