U. considering flat housing rate

Concerns first raised in meeting with UCS

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Gabriel Heymann ’10 lives in his Barbour apartment with two suitemates, and just like many other residents on campus, he has a personal area with a bed, shelves and a desk. But unlike some other rooms, his apartment comes with a bathroom and kitchen, and for those additions he pays $1,108 more for his room than students who live in rooms without those features.

A flat housing fee for all students would resolve this discrepancy. Margaret Klawunn, associate vice president of campus life and dean forstudent life, and Richard Bova, senior associate dean for residential life, have been discussing how to create such a policy, according to Klawunn.

Concerns about different housing rates first came to Klawunn’s attention at a meeting between the Undergraduate Council of Students and the Committee on the Residential Experience last December, she said. Currently, the fee for an apartment-style dorm with a kitchen and bathroom is $7,066 as opposed to $5,958 for other types of rooms.

There is no “firm timeline” for coming up with a solution to housing rate concerns, Klawunn said, because the matter first came up in the last UCS meeting of the fall semester in December, and Bova and Klawunn have not had sufficient time to devise a new housing plan.

Though he said he would prefer that all rooms cost the same, Heymann said he thinks students should have to pay an additional price for a kitchen or bathroom. “I think the benefits kind of make up for the extra price. I don’t know if it would change people’s decisions,” Heymann said.

Ryan Sims ’11 said having a flat housing rate would not affect his room choice, since he would want the suite-style dorm in any case, but he said a universal rate would allow all students to choose the room they want the most. “I’d probably make the same (housing) decision, but I think that’s a good idea because then anybody has the option of getting a better room,” Sims said

Kathrin Sorokko ’10 said the difference in fees does not affect her room choice. “I don’t really think about the price,” she said.

The quality of the suite-style housing should also be a factor in price, Heymann said. “They are all too expensive to begin with … but Young Orchard is so much nicer (than Barbour),” he said.

Klawunn said Brown’s housing policy is not unique. “It’s pretty common on other campuses to have a number of room rates,” she said.

Brown actually has a less disparate housing rate than most schools, according to Klawunn. She said while many schools have different rates for different rooms, Brown only has two. The differential is not as much as it is at other schools, she added.

As the semester continues, Klawunn said, she and Bova plan to have more discussions and make more progress on this concern. “I take it seriously. We don’t want opportunities foreclosed because of financial concerns, so we’re trying to figure out what we can do to make any type of room a student wants to live in available,” she said. “We have to figure out how we can do that so we can afford it.”