The Associated Residential Community Housing Advisory Committee, which is primarily made up of graduate students and administrators from Housing Dining Hospitality, advised HDH to freeze rental rates for the upcoming year during a meeting over Spring Break on March 28.
Over the last few months, HDH officials presented the committee with a number of proposals that would increase the cost of graduate housing over a four-year period for their input. Some of the proposals presented to the committee increased rent in new housing as much as 6 percent.
Student members argued at the meeting that HDH’s proposals had notable discrepancies, some upwards of $40 million and that HDH had not been transparent enough with their data for the committee to decide on any of them. In response, the committee voted to recommend freezing rental rates for the upcoming fiscal year.
“We don’t have sufficient data to motivate support for any rate increase,” ARCHAC member Petia Yanchulova Merica-Jones said. “The best thing we can do with this is to offer to not go anywhere.”
In response to the initial proposals from HDH, the UCSD Student Workers Union circulated a petition in favor of a rent-freeze. ARCHAC members at the meeting cited nearly 500 signatures as a motivating factor for a rent-freeze, as well as hundreds of emails from concerned students.
HDH administrators argued that if a rent-freeze went into place, deficit spending would need to be increased in future budgets to offset costs.
“We need to get out of the paradigm where student rent pays for background debt,” graduate student Anindita Bhattacharya said.
Towards the end of the March 28 meeting, the voting members supported the rent-freeze and largely rejected the five proposals offered by HDH. The committee additionally took a vote from members of the public who attended the meeting, who also voted overwhelmingly in support of a rent-freeze and against HDH’s proposals.
One of the points the committee members cited for rejecting some of the proposals was that the rent increases would exceed the raises that graduate student workers are expecting in the coming months.
“Housing costs [in these proposals] would increase four times faster than graduate student salaries,” ARCHAC member Yanchulova Merica-Jones told the UCSD Guardian.
Postdoctoral scholar and former voting committee member Sophie Hirakis reminded the committee of the indirect effects of charging students rental rates that surpass their incomes.
“Students can’t pay more than they are paid, so unless you want them to take out loans for eating, there is no way for these rates to be tractable for people living on poverty wages,” Hirakis said. “I’d like to remind everyone [here] that students aren’t just paying for themselves, but for their families, their children, their spouses, their dogs.”
Aleena Arakaki, vice chair of the GSA Diversity Advisory Council added to this saying, “We’re poor. We’re having to take out loans for the rates as they are already.”
According to Ferrer, it would be better to postpone making the decision on housing rates until the 2019-2020 academic year.
“Next year we’ll have more time to work on budgets together and find something,” Ferrer said at the meeting.
Representatives of HDH informed the Guardian that they are taking the committee’s input into consideration, but will not have a decision until sometime during Week 1 of Spring Quarter.
photo by Latitude33.com
This article has been updated to correct the spelling of Anindita Bhattacharya’s name