Proposed housing increases top 10 percent Twenty-two points, plus triple-word-score, plus fifty points for using all my letters. Game’s over. I’m outta here.

By Gus Bode

Room and board rates for University Housing could rise as much as 10 percent for next year, which would be an increase of $556.

Housing officials said the increase is mainly due to an increase in the cost of utilities, unfunded fire safety mandates and anticipated maintenance overhead costs. The Board of Trustees will consider and vote on the proposed increase this spring.

“It’s not a done deal by any means, but this is what we are recommending,” said Rick Schablowsky, associate director of University Housing. “We really have no choice.”

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Part of the increase will come from fire safety mandate, a state requirement that the University place sprinkler systems in all residence halls by 2013. The $13 million Campus Safety/Security Enhancement plan will be funded over 18 years. The state provided no money for this project.

The costs of utilities, such as electricity, water and steam, are projected to rise by $2.5 million. But Robbie Glaser, University Housing accountant, said the price reflects the highest cost, not necessarily the true cost. The department, she said, would rather be project higher costs than to be short of money later on.

Even with a 10 percent increase, SIUC on-campus housing would still be one of the lowest rates in Illinois when compared with other state universities, assuming those institutions raise their rates by 4.5 percent. Housing rates at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign would be $7,756, and Eastern Illinois University would charge $6,475, according to University documents.

The proposed increase comes as a surprise for many students. Barbetta Simmons, a junior from St. Louis studying computer science, said she might reconsider her decision to live in the residence halls next year because of the increase.

“That makes me think about it,” said Simmons, who lives in Thompson Point. “It makes me a little upset.”

Simmons said she was worried about having to work to pay for the extra costs, which could take away from her focus on school. She said she likes living in the residence halls because the location is close to campus and it’s quiet learning environment.

While some were surprised and worried about the rates, other students did not care about them.

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“It’s only money,” said Mark Theisinger, a junior from Tonica studying mechanical engineering. “I don’t think it’s that big of a deal.”

Theisinger said he prefers living on campus because he does not hassled with much upkeep. Regardless of the increase, he said he would continue living in the residence halls.

Rent at Evergreen Terrace, which is family housing on the south side of campus, would increase by 9.9 percent. If approved, this would raise rent to $454 a month, an increase of $41. Southern Hills, a family and graduate housing complex that is expected to be demolished by 2012, would only see a five percent increase to keep up with maintenance until then.

Reporter Julie Engler can be reached at [email protected]

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