Raising the roof

Students living in any of the residence halls operated by the Office of Residential Living next fall and spring will pay at least $64.96 more than they did last year, and some will pay as much as $224.20. More than 2,000 students from five complexes-Benchmark Plaza, Shoreline Ridge, Chapel Glen, Sage Point and Gateway Heights-will be affected by the increases in rent, meal plans, electricity and Residence Hall Association dues.

Increases in utility costs, benefits for employees and bond payments for the halls are the main reasons students will pay more than ever to live on campus, according to Jerry Bafford, assistant to the vice president of student affairs.

“We tried to keep costs down as low as we could, but our costs have gone up,” he said.

This year, operating expenses for the Office of Residential Living increased by about $395,000, according to Bafford, and the extra money coming out of students’ accounts is not enough to cover that amount.

“We didn’t feel we could put that full burden on the students,” Bafford said.

He and other staff members are looking elsewhere to avoid losing money.

“We haven’t had to lay any people off at this point…Hopefully, we don’t have to take that step,” Bafford said.

Instead, he said his office was making some changes to increase the occupancy of the buildings, which was between 83 and 87 percent in the residence halls and 95 percent in the apartments.

“We need to market what goes on up there,” he said.

Barb Remsburg, associate director for residential living, said that there are “special-interest floors” in each building designed to cater to students with different tastes. For example, the “Outdoor Adventure Floor” works with campus recreation in providing transportation, food and some equipment for students living there to use, free of charge. The “Leadership in Service Floor” has programming for students to develop leadership skills.

A number of other services are available, including cable television, high-speed Internet, telephone, tutor services and free social activities and traditions. For Greg Ford and Resident Adviser Cecilia Ahanonu, who both live in the Benchmark apartments, paying the cost is worth it.

“It’s so nice, it’s safe…I love it. Once you go out of state, you realize what a good deal it is,” Ford said.

“[People not living here] are missing out on activities and programs,” Ahanonu said.

Joel Arrizo, a resident adviser who lived in Chapel Glen and now lives at Benchmark, said that his experience has been “incredibly valuable,” if not priceless.

Not all students attain as valuable of an experience. In fact, Arrizo said that about 10 students from his floor went to him and said they were going to live off campus because the cost of living was already expensive. He added the increases might have helped them to finalize their decisions.

Other students like Tedy Anderson and Itoro Elijah would rather not pay the price to live on campus. “The cable, the telephone and the Heritage Center was nice, but not enough,” Elijah said.

“It doesn’t cost me anything to live at home,” Anderson said.

Students will continue to pay more every year for at least the next five or six years, according to Bafford.

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