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Residence fees to increase up to 5.75 per cent

By Fabian Mayer, November 17 2015 —

The cost of living on campus is going up again. Proposed residence fee increases range from a fraction of a per cent to just under six.

The largest hike will be applied to single rooms in first-year residences Kananaskis and Rundle halls, which currently have rates of $726.50 per month. If the proposed increases are passed students will pay around  $770 next year.

Students’ Union vice-president external Romy Garrido said it’s frustrating to see increases go beyond the rate of inflation.

“When we ask for a justification on why they’re beyond [inflation], we’re always given unsatisfactory answers,” Garrido said.

The university approved fee increases of up to eight per cent last year, but reduced them to five per cent after student lobbying.

“We’re questioning and challenging Residence Services as well as university administration to look at the spending side of the ledger and be transparent,” Garrido said.

Associate director Residence Services Randy Maus said the fee increases are necessary as costs go up. He cited labour costs as an example.

“These rates wouldn’t have been proposed if we didn’t feel they were justified,” Maus said.

Rent in Calgary has been relatively stable since the economic downturn late last year. However, Maus said it is unfair to compare residence fees to off-campus rent.

“We look at the market just to see where it is, although we are not an apples-to-apples comparison,” Maus said. “We believe in providing the residence experience, and there’s a lot more tied up in that than just four walls and a bed.”

Maus admitted that as living in residence becomes more expensive relative to off-campus living, more students may choose the latter.

“Some students are very bottom-line oriented and they may just be looking for four walls and a bed,” he said.

Garrido agrees the comparison between on- and off-campus living is an imperfect one, but for different reasons. She argues that students living in residence aren’t protected in the same ways other tenants are. 

The Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) governs tenants’ rights, but does not apply to students living in residence.

“I do praise our residence services in that they try to follow the RTA more closely, but I’m sure there’s gaps there,” Garrido said. “It’s an unfair comparison to make when it is arbitrary regulation that they’re protected by.”

Garrido said the SU would like to see some sort of cap on residence fee hikes if rates continue to increase. She believes residence will soon only be accessible to higher-income students.

“For now, all we’re even asking is for better justification,” Garrido said. “I’d love to move beyond that and see predictability.”

A three per cent increase to the mandatory meal plan rate was also proposed.

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