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Increase of 8.5 per cent proposed for first-year single rooms

By Chris Adams, October 30 2014 —

Residence services will propose fee increases for all residence buildings at the tuition and fees consultation committee on Nov. 6 before going to the Board of Governors for final approval on Dec. 12.

The increases would raise residence fees by 8.5 per cent — $58 per month — for single rooms in Rundle. Students in other buildings would see fees rise from one to five per cent.

The cost of a meal plan would increase 3.5 per cent if the proposal is approved, which all students in first-year buildings and Yamnuska are forced to buy.

Residence Students’ Association president Austin Baecker criticized the proposal, saying students are tired of paying more to cover debt accrued by Residence Services.

“I wouldn’t say they’re financially sound. You can’t run an organization where your expenses are greater than your revenue. They’re using these increases to pay for their long-term debt and while they’re doing it they’re just taking on more debt,” Baecker said.

Residence Services’ budget is around $21 million. They are not-for-profit, but around 50 per cent of their budget pays mortgages on residence buildings.

University of Calgary vice-president finance and services Linda Dalgetty said residence fees rise to maintain a balanced budget, to pay mortgages on buildings and to cover operational costs.

“We’re not going over and above. We’re not doing anything gold-plated, but we are providing good-quality, well-maintained facilities for our students,” Dalgetty said.

Ninety-five per cent of Residence Services’ revenue comes from residence fees.

Baecker said Residence Services shouldn’t depend on students to pay their debts.

“Where does it end? They keep taking on more debt and they rely on students to get them out of it,” Baecker said. “They’re building new buildings right now and they’re paying off their mortgages from buildings we still have like Yamnuska and Cascade.”

Residence Services will also charge higher rates for “premium rooms” on higher floors in the new buildings, Aurora and Crowsnest, next year.

Dalgetty said students prefer to live on higher floors and that students won’t be forced into premium rooms. Under the proposal, non-premium rooms in Aurora and Crowsnest cost $800 less than their premium counterparts. Single rooms in Aurora will cost $7,795 per academic year, while a premium single will cost $8,595.

Dalgetty said they would cost more because they have better views.

“If there is a perceived value to asking for those upper floors and if we are giving premium vistas, you would have the choice as a student to pay a premium to have those nicer rooms because there is a perception that there is a higher value placed on those rooms,” Dalgetty said.

But Baecker said every room on higher floors won’t have a better view. He said most students look for affordable accommodation, not premium apartments.

“To have the premium floors creates social stratification inside the building. You’ll have your upper class on your upper floors and then your middle or lower class on the lower floors,” Baecker said.

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