Higher room rates suggested

Room rates for campus housing will increase less than 3 percent next fall, in keeping with past increase rates, but whether the cost of the dining plan will increase is still uncertain, university officials said.

Craig Allen, director of Residential Services, said the increase hasn’t been approved yet, but it will be under 3 percent. He said rates have been going up on an average of 3 to 5 percent in the last few years. Allen said his recommendation for an increase has been sent to Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Don Mills.

Some of the factors contributing to the increase include the cost of utilities increasing with each new hall that has been built and housekeeping costs for supplies and labor, Allen said.

Residence hall rates range from $2,400 to $3,450 for the 2008-09 academic year, tentative plans for 2009-10 list the rates from $2,700 to $3,550.

“We hire a lot of people. We have about 40 housekeepers. Whether it’s full-time staff, residence assistants, all of those add up but especially full-time staff because payroll goes up, the cost of benefits goes up,” Allen said.

The renovation of the Milton Daniel Hall will not affect the number of available rooms because the reopening of Sherley Hall next fall will provide about the same number of beds, Allen said.

New housing options will be available for next year, Allen said. Townhouses on Sandage and McCart, which were split up between undergraduate and graduate students this year, will be opened exclusively to undergraduate juniors and seniors next fall, Allen said. Allen also said condos the university owns on the corner of Bellaire and Stadium Drive will be renovated for use by juniors and seniors and a model for the design will be available soon.

James R. McCombs, a senior business and informations systems & supply and value chain management double major who works as an assistant hall director for the Tom Brown/Pete Wright Apartments as well as an RA for Mabee Hall, said he hasn’t seen much of a response from residents about the proposed increase.

McCombs said the requirement that students live on campus their freshman and sophomore year created a “tight fit” when students decided to stay at TCU for housing. Besides several complaints and some hate mail in his e-mail inbox, McCombs said the most feedback he has received in the past was the changes to the dining plan this year.

Rick Flores, director of Dining Services, said he doesn’t know whether the price of the dining plans will increase next fall, given the economy and other factors like rising food costs.

“All those things will have to be taken into consideration,” Flores said. “If there are services that are extended or put on top of the current meal plan, then obviously we really have to look at exactly what those costs involve and how we share that with the participants and members on the meal plan.”

One change students will see this spring is a pilot program to find an eating alternative for students who don’t want to walk all the way from the east side of campus to Market Square, Flores said. Two weeks ago, Allen announced that Sub Connection will accept meal plan card swipes starting this spring.

Flores said right now the department is looking at the different locations for the pilot program and how the meal plan will cover the costs.