Notre Dame students aren’t the only ones struggling to make ends meet this semester. Data from the Department of Even Micro-er Economics on campus shows that the leftover food market, a main source of economic activity for the cockroach population, has nearly ground to a halt.
“It’s simple,” said Jeff Bezroach, a wealthy cockroach crumb-trader in Alumni Hall. “Without socialization in the dorms, our communities and markets will suffer.”
Cockroaches at Notre Dame are renowned across the cockroach business world for their specialization in the leftover food market. They sell billions of dollars of crumb stock annually and often end up with a surplus of leftovers. However, new regulations from the top brass at Notre Dame are choking reliable sources of supply.
“We were anticipating explosive growth in the coming years, with juniors having to stay on campus and all. The pandemic threw a wrench in that, and now we’re fighting just to stay afloat,” said Bezroach. “Smaller firms with less crumb liquidity are failing to keep up. We’ve been forced to lay off several hundred roaches just to keep the doors open.”
Because of coronavirus restrictions, students can no longer gather safely in dorms to party. They’re spending less time snacking and socializing in their rooms than ever, and cockroaches are reeling from a lack of inventory.
“Before, it was fun to watch the new freshmen struggle through dorm parties. Now, it’s just sad. They sit alone in their rooms and cry. Really demoralizing stuff, to be honest,” said Warroach Buffet, an industry leader in crumb investment.
Dorms with stricter enforcement of the regulations are hit especially hard, with some executive roaches forced to turn to party dorms for bailouts. All in all, the situation is dire, and many roaches are beginning to get desperate.
“I’ve been a part of the leftovers industry for 40 years, and I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Buffet. “Not even with the Raid Blitzes of ’06 or NQFTA [North Quad Free Trade Agreement] in the nineties. This pandemic has shaken the core of our traditional business model. I’m unable to rely on parties to bring home the bread these days, and the credit lines are really crumbling.”
Buffet and other leaders in the market are being forced to look at avenues that have been ignored for years.
“We’ve considered expanding operations into the dorm hallways, so we can access the trash cans. It’s risky, but we have to be bold if we want to succeed in these times,” Buffet said.
Venturing out into the halls is perilous business. Cockroaches have usually stayed away in the past, citing nervous students prone to squishing and housekeeping staff prone to sweeping.
Some roaches, however, are bringing fresh perspectives into an old and tradition-oriented industry. Young entrepreneurs in the field are looking to make lasting changes to the leftovers business model. Sarah Roachston, a venture capitalist, has founded a startup looking at expanding operations beyond the dorms.
“We really want to revolutionize the way that cockroaches do business here at Notre Dame,” said Roachston. “We’ve begun negotiating directly with employees at both North and South Dining Halls, as well as the Huddle. I want to give power back to the roaches and eliminate unreliable student middlemen.”
This is a promising venture for many in the market, who see no other alternatives. Negotiations are ongoing, and the cockroaches hope to begin trading directly within the quarter.
“My models show a recovery of 75% of losses if we can Hancock some contracts with the two dining halls, and if we can trade with the Huddle we’ll be doing better than before the pandemic,” Roachston added.
Established business leaders in the cockroach community are stressing the need to persevere.
“Just let us do our jobs,” said Bezroach. “We mean no harm. I’ve got a family to feed, and they won’t eat if you squish me on the floor like an ant.”
Warroach Buffet captured the plight of the roach population best: “If there was one thing I could request of the students of Notre Dame, it would be to please leave a few crumbs on your floor the next time you have dinner in."