Opinion: Is UD promoting healthy habits?

Charley Lustig | Opinions Editor 

The average life of a college student

Imagine extending your arm outside the warm comforter to turn off the obnoxious ringing of your alarm. Even though it is only 10 o’clock in the morning, your late night trip to the library the night prior was longer than expected. You were already fighting the motivational battle of going to class and now with the lack of sleep and energy, you were so close to skipping.

Now the only motivation for you to leave your warm haven, go to class, and stay awake is the heavenly taste of some coffee. Coffee is your savior. In fact, it was the only way you were able to stay up in the library as late as you did. Thanks to the late hours of The Blend in the Roesch Library, you were able to get that paper in. 

This is a common trend with college students. Some have become dependent on one fuel source: caffeine. Students can quench their thirst for energy through a variety of sources ranging from coffee to Monster to Celsius. And to their benefit, students are able to quickly grab their drink of choice through the scattered coffee shops, dining outlets, or vending machines.

At this point in their lives, students are pushed to improve their time management skills in balancing class, studying, and their social lives. All of this responsibility comes down to a heavy set of expectations and pressure. Students must get good grades, attend all their classes, have a popular social life, while also making time for themselves and personal hobbies, clubs, and other extracurriculars. 

These standards fail to acknowledge other important and basic necessities such as getting a good night’s rest, eating three meals a day, and hydrating. Unfortunately, these needs are left on the backburner for college students including those at UD.

Is the University of Dayton promoting healthy habits? Is the University of Dayton setting its students up for success?

Availability of caffeine products throughout campus

If you are a coffee lover, the University of Dayton offers its students, faculty, and visitors a variety of choices depending on taste and feel. Two most popular options include Heritage Coffee Shop and The  Blend. 

For those who are wanting an aesthetic coffee shop experience, Heritage is the place to go. Semi-centrally located on campus, the wood ceiling beams, abundance of natural light, and choice of seating provides the perfect environment. The green accents throughout the space hint at an eccentric sense of life and good vibes.

Heritage Coffee House is a hot commodity for coffee cravers and its hours respond to its drinkers’ needs. From Monday to Thursday, Heritage is able to satisfy your caffeine needs from 7:45 am to 5:00 pm, and on Fridays from 7:45 am to 3:30 pm. Unfortunately for those needing their fix on the weekend, the shop is closed Saturday and Sunday.

But for those who prefer an option with longer hours, a preference for Starbucks-like drinks, or need a coffee on the go, The Blend might be a more appealing option. This franchise is located in both the Roesch Library and Miriam Hall- perfect places to study with access to resources. 

The Blend Express in Miriam Hall holds the same hours as Heritage Coffee House but The Blend in Roesch Library has much longer hours. There, you can quench your thirst from 8:00 am to 10:00 pm Monday through Thursday, 8:00 am to 3:30 pm on Friday, and 3:00 pm to 10:00 pm on Sundays. 

These late hours provide the perfect opportunity to pull that all nighter and complete that midterm essay or cram for that final exam. This may create students to have a more relaxed relationship with sleep than prioritize a consistent bedtime. 

Overall, there is a wide availability students are able to fulfill their caffeine needs, creating some underlying questions: Are these late hours ethical and do they promote healthy habits? 

Meal plans and connections to buying coffee

UD offers three meal plans including Standard, Flexible, and Neighborhood. Each student’s conditions, such as living situation and eating habits, are factors for which plan they are eligible for and which they choose. 

The most popular meal plan is the Flex Plan. Hence the name, this allows students the flexibility in how they choose to lay out their meals and/or snacks. This plan has a set amount of money but students generally view its amount to be generous. Oftentimes with this meal plan, people are left with more money to spend near the end of the semester. 

With such fluidity in spending habits, students are left to their own preferences. Freedom serves as a double-edged sword. 

A student who likes to procrastinate until the night before can use this meal plan to buy that expresso at 10 o’clock at night instead of getting a good night’s rest. A student who would rather drink coffee in the morning than take the time to eat can purchase that Venti-Iced Mocha instead of eating a balanced breakfast. 

Coffee, instead of being left as a treat or for the rare occasion, can now be a part of one’s morning ritual or energy source. This may leave students being more prone to having that dependence or addiction for coffee. 

False perception of life in the future

Now let’s take a glimpse into the future of these students. 

The odds that these students will enter into a high paying and flexible job are not impossible but not common. College students are more likely going to face a stricter budget and more demanding work schedule. But if these students are dependent on caffeine for energy and developed strenuous spending habits, are they set up to succeed in the future? 

In college, they were able to procrastinate, could attend classes later vs earlier, and had numerous opportunities to buy coffee. They may have also been in a situation where they could afford skipping a day of classes or staying up all night. But this bubble eventually pops.

According to Forbes, the average salary of those with a Bachelor’s Degree in 2023 is $59,600. While this may seem decent, the price of living is rising dramatically. Based on where you live, a recent undergraduate may make barely enough to cover their living expenses. 

The average Starbucks drink is one of the more expensive coffee options. The reality of a recent undergraduate student living on their own with a starting salary, makes it rather unlikely that they will be able to maintain their routine consumption of coffee. 

But affordability isn’t the only downside. Most jobs do not have the same flexibility that college courses are able to offer. In most cases, it may feel like a job is more like a high school student’s schedule where they must leave the house by 7:30 am and not return until 5:00 pm. 

The combination of procrastination and dependence on coffee, that is often shown in college students, will no longer be an option. Their whole world may be flipped over as their time management skills are faced to turn a full 360. 

While coffee is a helpful tool when used in moderation, the addiction that increases during an individual’s time in college may be detrimental. One’s energy should not be confined to their caffeine intake. It should be advised that students take into consideration the expenses associated with coffee and find other ways to extract energy within themselves to become more productive. 

Caffeine isn’t necessarily good for you

Despite its deceivingly delectable taste or heavenly scent, the health benefits of coffee are not as inviting.  

With excessive consumption, coffee is known to lead to heart complications, yellowing of teeth, and dehydration. There are many other complications that often follow unrestricted usage. The few symptoms listed only touch the surface of the bodily issues that caffeine may potentially lead to.  

Caffeine doesn’t just flow through your body, but can have a negative effect on your emotions. In excessive consumption, you may risk facing higher levels of stress. But you may be thinking, isn’t this a good thing? Doesn’t stress motivate people to fulfill their duties? 

The answer varies. There is certainly a good amount of stress that helps propel people into completing their necessary tasks, but great amounts of stress don’t have the same benefits. There are conditions such as chronic stress, which leave their victims paralyzed both mentally and physically. People that undergo chronic stress usually face bodily aches while being unable to focus and complete certain tasks.

Yet, caffeine may also take a dip into affecting one’s sleep patterns. This serves as a potential snowball effect in which the lack of sleep can later cause more stress, anxiety, and even depression. Caffeine has the power to indirectly create more problems. 

This causes a greater problem towards students who are already under pressure to achieve exceptional grades, successfully network, participate in extracurricular activities, and build up a glamorous social life. With excessive caffeine consumption, students are making themselves more prone to facing obstacles than maneuvering them.

Promote an awareness of students’ health 

With both the physical and mental health of students being at stake, there is a need for personal reflection and growing awareness for all.

Students, give yourselves the time to look back at yourselves and contemplate your habits. Consider how you spend your money, look back on how often you get into bed by 10:00 pm, and think about your whole health.

Parents, take into regard the amount of pressure you place upon your student. Take time to review your expectations and how they affect your child. Standards are healthy, but in moderation, like caffeine. Let your student know that you are there to support them and can fall back on you when they are struggling.

Alumni, reflect on your current positions and schedules and how they correlate with caffeine. Weigh on your dependency on it and how it has affected your life. Examine areas that you have the ability to better yourself in such as stress management. 

University of Dayton staff and faculty, reflect on the amount of support the university provides its students and efforts into the formation of healthy habits. Consider if there are support groups for struggling students, whether healthy substitutes are offered in replacement of coffee, if the hours of coffee providing stores are reasonable, or if sleep is emphasized enough. 

We are all called to bring forth positive change to our communities. And while World Peace may not directly tie into the effects of caffeine on college students, society has the power to better itself. Discussing the effects of caffeine and adjusting our lifestyles accordingly might just be the start of a chain reaction to make the world a better place, full of healthier people. 

Flyer News: Univ. of Dayton's Student Newspaper