I Pay for What?!

It’s funny how things always happen to me while I’m eating lunch.

Unfortunately, this time it started because I couldn’t eat lunch — I had foolishly forgotten to pack a fork! Recalling that Gerstein’s UnderStudy Café is a delightful source of culinary needs (including forks), I sauntered into the café and grabbed a fork.

“Hey!” a voice shouted at me. “You need to pay for that.”

I looked up to see a rather disgruntled cafeteria worker.

“Pardon me?” I asked, bewildered. “I need to pay for just the fork?”


“You’re kidding, right?” (I actually thought she was kidding.)

“No. You need to pay for the fork.”

“How much?” I asked, thinking it would be five cents, maximum.

“25 — no, wait, 26 cents” was the rather appalling response.

“26 cents? For a plastic fork?” I asked, incredulous.


Thinking about it rationally (engaging the sort of analytical thinking the University of Toronto claims to foster in all its students), I decided it wasn’t really worth paying for the fork. Gripping the handle, I started to place the fork back into the container.

Big mistake.

“Don’t put that back!” she yelled. “I don’t know where your hands have been!”

I peered into the container in which the forks lay clumsily, noting the rather unsanitary method of obtaining a fork, in which one sticks one’s whole hand into a container of all the “clean” forks.

“I’m sorry,” I said.

“Fine. I’ll let it go this time, but next time, you pay 25, no, 26 cents. Understand?”

I recount this experience now and share it with you because at first I was bewildered and incredulous, and then I became riled up as I started thinking about everything the university makes students pay for. You may have read in Metro that Ontario students pay the highest fees in the whole country — fees that continue to skyrocket.

But once I calmed down (now, I chuckle at the odd experience), I started to think seriously about all the things that students pay for — all of the wonderful services that University of Toronto students have included in their fees, which they are never aware of, until they graduate — and perhaps not even then! I became determine to figure out exactly what I pay for.

After extensive research, I’ve discovered the best place to get a breakdown of your fees is your very own ROSI invoice!

Quite amazing, isn’t it? I mean, $13 here, $20 there — it all adds up, but you get so much!

UTSU: The students’ union represents 41,000 students, offers discounted TTC passes and movies passes, job opportunities, book exchanges, bursaries and more!

Hart House: a gym, a restaurant, a theatre, a gallery — my brain spins with the joys of Hart House!

Health and Dental Plan: Did you know your dental work can be covered up to 75 per cent? Just try to imagine how much whiter and shinier your smile might be if you took advantage of that. 🙂

CIUT: U of T has a wonderful radio station. If you’ve noticed the construction, you might have discovered that they’re moving to Hart House. You can hear their great work streaming live from the web.

You also pay for athletics, magazines/newpapers, student services and much more. Each student also pays for special services in their college or faculty (the sample fees breakdown above is for a University College student, hence the lines for the UC Lit. It’s worth the money: your education is really an amazing investment.

Till next week.

– Fariya

6 comments on “I Pay for What?!

  1. @ Lori: Haha, I was caught off guard by the … severity in which she reprimanded me. From that, I learn’t I can just go to Robarts Cafe and still feel like a non-stealing, clean-hands human being while obtaining a fork 🙂

  2. how do we “take advantage” of the drug/dental insurance? like can we only use it if a tennis racket knocks my tooth out?

  3. @ Monica – Haha, actually, you can use it for generally cleaning etc. Its a bit of a tricky system, I think you need to go to Hart House and try to reclaim the money. My best suggestion would be that you talk to someone at Hart House first, and find out exactly what is covered.

  4. I’ve learned to avoid the Understudy Cafe. They are very slow in service.. VERY slow. They are very rude. And it makes a simple process of buying something actually very crappy. And when I am already probably stressed about class, etc.. it is just irritating.

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