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Residence life will support dorm rate hike proposal

By Caitlin Murphy
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday Mar. 25, 2002

Proposal would increase rates by nearly 9 percent

The Department of Residence Life will push for the Board of Regents to increase next year's residence hall rates by 8.7 percent, residence life officials said.

Next Year's Proposed Dorm Rates
Residence Hall Current yearly 8.7 percent hike
Coronado $3,380 $3,674
Gila $3,046 $3,311
Graham-Greenlee $3,046 $3,311
Hopi $2,712 $2,948
Kaibab-Huachuca $3,113 $3,384
La Paz $3,380 $3,674
Maricopa $3,113 $3,384

If the regents pass the rate hike at their April 25-26 meeting in Flagstaff, hall rates would increase anywhere from $200 to more than $370.

An increase of this size would bring in roughly $3,000,000 in extra funding based on the approximately 5,500 students who currently live in residence halls.

Among the reasons cited for increasing rent is a 5 percent yearly increase in renovation and maintenance fees, which cover the painting and re-carpeting of dorms.

Apache-Santa Cruz is among the residence halls that will benefit from the hike in fees. The dorm will be outfitted with new furniture this summer and will undergo major renovations in 2003.

This year, however, many dorms will not experience major improvements due to the state budget deficit.

James Van Arsdel, director of Residence Life and University Housing, said a rise in administrative service fees charged to auxiliary departments like Residence Life was also a contributor to the proposed rate hike.

University administrators raised that fee last semester from 5 percent to 6 percent of the auxiliaries' total revenue, in order to counter what was then expected to be $13.8 million in state-mandated budget cuts.

The administrative service fee pays for employee salaries and other operating expenses.

"There are a number of things that contribute to raising fees," Van Arsdel said. "Besides paying for telephone services and leases for apartment complexes, there is a component related to new facilities."

Van Arsdel is referring to the construction of four new residence halls known as the Highland District Redevelopment Project, which will be located near East Sixth Street and North Highland Avenue. Construction on the $39.7 million project is slated to begin in April and be completed by Fall 2004.

"Half of the total amount we receive from the increase in residence hall rates will be used to help pay off the cost of construction," Van Arsdel said.

In April 2000, Van Arsdel announced a 7.6 percent increase in the cost of housing in dorms for 2002. It was an rise from the 2 percent to 3 percent increase of previous years, but it was not the greatest.

Although the increase will help displace the budget crunch, groups like the Residence Hall Association do not see any of the funding.

Anne Brooksher, RHA vice president for Campus Affairs, said that even if rates do increase, RHA would not receive benefits from it.

RHA did, however, pass a bill before spring break that will automatically charge each resident $20 per year.

"The hall dues used to be optional," said Michael Miller, information and operations coordinator for RHA. "By putting the hall dues into the regular rent fees, we don't have to exclude any students. Anyone will be able to rent videos and equipment from the front desk."

Despite the efforts by both Residence Life and RHA to improve residence halls, some students are still upset with the increase.

"All I can say is thank God I don't have to live in the dorms next year," said Ashley Stark, a communication freshman. "My parents pay enough at this school already and who knows where all the money is going."

Patrick Davis, a microbiology freshman, agreed that a rate increase would be high but thinks the benefits are worth the money.

"Hopefully, the students will get something out of it," Davis said. "Improving the dorms is a great idea."


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