Board Passes Housing, Dining Fee Increases

The cost of on-campus dorms and dining will likely increase beginning Fall Quarter 2010.

A proposed department budget, finalized by the on-campus Housing, Dining and Hospitality Services Board earlier this month, now awaits approval by Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Penny Rue. The plan would increase dining plans by $98 a year for students in the residence halls, and $75 for those in on-campus apartments.

Housing fees would increase by $279 a year for students living in single or double rooms in the residence halls, and $247 for those in triple rooms. In the apartments, single- and double-room occupants would see a $287 increase, and students in triple rooms would pay $237 more.

The committee, which passed the budget on March 12, is comprised of nine students representing each of the six colleges, student staff, the Inter-Collegiate Residents Association and the A.S. Council, as well as six administrative representatives from HDS, the Financial Aid Office, and the Residential Life Office. Voting members passed the budget 10-1, with one member abstaining and A.S. Campuswide Senator Wafa Ben Hassine casting the sole dissenting vote.

Those in favor of the proposal said the increases are necessary to maintain current dining services and food prices.

“The [increased] fees are [needed] because of the input gap that has been going up in general,” ICRA representative Michael Lam said. “Food, utilities and other costs are going up — such as water for all of San Diego.”

According to Lam, if the cost of dining packages remains the same, significant cuts in services will follow, including the possible shut down of OceanView Terrace — which has the highest operational costs and the largest student workforce of any dining hall at UCSD. In the event of OVT’s closure, adult staff would move to other on-campus venues, but students would have to reapply to work at another dining hall.

Eleanor Roosevelt College committee representative Daniella Shulman said the decision to endorse a fee increase came after much deliberation on the subject.

“I want to stress that the committee has been working for an entire quarter on this to make the budget,” Shulman said. “In comparison to every other UC, I believe San Diego has the lowest housing costs.”

UCSD has the third cheapest housing in the system, with UC Merced and UC Riverside being the most affordable with respect to on-campus residence halls.

Director of Housing, Dining and Hospitality Services Mark Cunningham said an increase in mandatory dining dollars would help pay for the reopening of Sierra Summit, the John Muir College dining hall currently undergoing renovations. He added that bump in fees would not be accompanied by any increase in food prices, and that the current level of services would continue.

According to a 2010-11 budget released by the board, HDS is trying to cover an expected decrease in total income of over $2,300,000, as well as an increase in expenses of over $1,120,000. Given that 33 percent of undergraduates live in on-campus housing, implementing this increase will raise at least $2,550,000 to cover those costs. In addition to the funds generated by the proposed dining dollar and housing fee increase, HDS will be enacting minor cuts in general service expenses — such as groundskeeping, buses, conferences, and post-office services — and large cuts in service improvement and development.

At a hour and a half long public-input period proceeding the board’s vote, students asked the committee to reject dining-dollar and housing fee increases, saying they were an unnecessary burden on freshmen and sophomores.

“Housing and Dining knows that students are unaware, and they keep on raising fees when they might not even be necessary and taking advantage of a lack of concern,” Revelle College Resident Adviser Chiang Jui Young said. “[Students] might not care personally because their parents are paying their fees.”

Ben Hassine said she voted against the extra dining dollars due to her concern that students fees are already rising so steadily.

“It’s essentially going to make our school less acceptable than it already is,” Ben Hassine said. “We already have 35-percent tuition increases, and to keep raising prices is dangerous, especially to students.”

Campuswide Senator Desiree Prevo said she felt students on the committee were unaware of how increased fees would negatively affect students and campus accessibility.

“Being someone that tries to get students to come here, especially from low-income backgrounds, it’s really hard to say, ‘Come here, but I’m not sure if you can afford it.’” Prevo said. “It puts me in a really difficult position.”

Readers can contact Henry Becker at [email protected].

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