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Louie Villanueva

University increases residence fees while rent falls in Calgary

By Fabian Mayer, January 12 2015 —

The University of Calgary Board of Governors approved residence fee increases ranging from 0.25–5.75 per cent at their December meeting. The decision comes as residential rent prices in Calgary continue to fall as a result of the province’s economic downturn.

The largest increases will affect roughly 205 single rooms in first-year residences. Students in Kananaskis and Rundle Hall will pay around $770 per month next year, an increase of about $45 from last year’s $726.50.

The increased rates will take effect on May 1, 2016.

Students’ Union president Levi Nilson sits on the BOG. He has concerns about residence fee hikes over the past few years.

“I’m worried that we’re sleep-walking into a situation where university residences are severely hampered because only the very wealthy are going to be able to live in them,” Nilson said.

According to Nilson, he and BOG student representative Michael Tom were the only members to vote against the increases.

“That’s just how it’s been for the last couple of years,” Nilson said. “Students are always a token dissent.”

Residence Services associate director Randy Maus cited increasing labour and other costs as justification for the hikes when they were proposed in the fall.

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

According to RentFaster.ca, prices for available one bedroom apartment or condo in communities surrounding the university are down roughly 12 per cent from last year.

Maus argues it doesn’t make sense to compare residence with off-campus living.

“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 said.

Nilson disagrees. He worries about students missing out on residence because of  the cost.

“I don’t know if I would be able to live in residence now if I was starting school,” Nilson said. “Their justifications for increasing [fees] were extremely unconvincing, especially when you compare it to the larger market.”

Residence Students Association president Shaane Nathu said that while fee hikes are expected, he would prefer a slower budgeting process that allows for more consultation. 

“For them to get more consultation from us so they can see what residence students actually have to say,” Nathu said. “Hopefully we’re going to try to work with them more next year.”

Like Nilson, Nathu also worries about the accessibility of residence.

“Sooner or later people will not be able to afford them,” Nathu said.

Residence students will also pay more to eat, as a three per cent meal plan increase in the mandatory meal plan was also passed.

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