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Residence fees to be raised next September

Proposed increase draws criticism from Residence Students’ Association

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Students living in residence during next year’s fall semester can expect to pay more to live on campus.

Ancillary Services has proposed an increase in residence fees at the University of Calgary to take affect in September 2014. If approved, residence fees will increase by 2-4 per cent for Castle, Glacier and Olympus, while fees for Cascade, Yamnuska, Kannanaskis, Global Village and Rundle will rise by 5 per cent.

“All the rates related to all the different room styles will be increased,” executive director of Ancillary Services Voula Cocolakis said. “The rates are increasing right across the board.”

The proposal has been approved by multiple subsidiary committees and is now awaiting approval by the Board of Governors.

“All our fees have to be presented to different committees and then they have to go to the Board of Governors for final approval,” Cocolakis said. “They will go in front of the Board of Governors probably at the next meeting in December for review and final approval. At this point, these are all proposed increases.”

Suggested fee increases are submitted yearly by Ancillary Services. Last year, fees were raised 3–5 per cent to cover debts incurred while building Yamnuska Hall.

Cocolakis said the fee increase is necessary to fund essential services.

“The residence operation is operated on a break even [basis]. There’s no profit-making or revenue generation from a residence perspective,” Cocolakis said. “In order for us to balance our budget and to cover all the increases we’re going to be faced with — whether it’s salary increases or operational increases — we have to raise our rates.”

Along with operational expenses, housing prices in Calgary also impact the cost of residence. Residence Students’ Association president Dan Medland-Marchen said that Ancillary Services does not properly compare the cost of off-campus housing with the cost of residence.

“One thing that Ancillary Services does quite often is compare a four-bedroom in Cascade, to a four-bedroom in Calgary. These are [off campus] kids who are living in maybe four or five bedroom houses and pay between $350–$500 per month,” Medland-Marchen said. “I think it’s really hard for Ancillary Services to justify a raise in residence fees based on the simple fact that most students that live off campus who live around the university actually live in houses, not apartments.”

Medland-Marchen said that increasing residence fees will force students who rely on campus housing to look elsewhere.

“If things like this continue, regardless of what’s happening in Calgary with housing or the cost of labour and those different things that go into the fee, I think that we could definitely see a big demographic change in terms of the people that are here,” Medland-Marchen said. “I think that residence would be a place that can only benefit a very small minority of people who can afford to live here.”

Students have also criticized the proposed fees.

“In this day and age, post-secondary education should ideally be available to everyone,” said Marshall Loader, a third-year math student living in Global Village. “Public universities are making it even more difficult for the less advantaged person.”

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