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Volume 5, Number 6
19 October 1998

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Food Prices Debate Continues
Food and drink prices have been the topic of some fervent discussions in the recent issues of Bilkent News. To give a clearer picture of what factors contribute to the food prices, Bilkent News contacted Cafetarias Manager Ayhan Dağ, and the Student Union representatives.

"First of all, price comparisons are only valid among similar restaurants. The operating costs of a small, self-serve eatery are lower than that of a larger establishment, and therefore prices will vary. In addition, Bilkent takes several measures that are not typical elsewhere to ensure the safety of its food and drink. Hygienic measures like masks and gloves for workers, food safety tests, and chlorine tablet disinfectants can cost each establishment at Bilkent at least 300 million TL a month," Dağ said.

External factors also create the illusion of higher prices at Bilkent. Many students point out that food and drink prices are lower at nearby state universities like METU and Hacettepe, Dağ said. What they fail to take into account is that because these institutions are run by the state they do not have to pay for state-controlled services like utilities, which make up a significant portion of an eatery's operating costs.

Student Union Vice President Tuğrul Yılmaz found this to be true last year when the Student Union did a survey of Coke prices in response to student complaints. The survey showed some Coke prices higher and some Coke prices lower than those at Bilkent, but Yİlmaz said interviews with restaurant operators at Bilkent proved that the lower prices were the result of the state subsidies enjoyed by eateries at state schools.

As for the food price increase, "this year, the restaurant operators pushed for an 80 percent price increase, but got about half that much. In previous years, inflation has forced food prices up as much as 118 percent in a year," Dağ noted, "but the price increases allowed Bilkent restaurants have never been much more than 70 percent in a year." Dağ pointed out that there is not a monopoly of Bilintur on campus, contrary to popular belief. Many of Bilkent's eateries, such as Tivoli, Sözeri Pide, and Mozart Cafe are operated by other individuals, allowing for price competition on campus.

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