In response to Lori Wysong’s article “Room Rate Increase: Price Change for 2018-19 Year,” I would like to make a couple of comments about the state of on-campus housing as it relates to the new rate structure.
As students, we recognize that the costs of living on campus must change with the needs of the school. Many of our dorms, especially the older, traditional-style buildings which commonly house freshmen, are not accessible for persons with disabilities. During the recent rain storm, students reported rain leaking in through windows, including in the recently renovated Kent House. Over the winter break, several of the pipes in Reid burst. Hot water failures and sticking door locks are the norm in the “traditional” style dorms. Yet, the school wants to increase the cost of living in these dorms so that they will be “priced closer to the midpoint of our peers.”
I have a couple of problems with this. Right now, living in Reid Hall, one of the most inexpensive buildings on campus, costs $5,728 per year, including the laundry fee which will be rolled into the new housing prices. Under the new price scheme, Reid alone will see a 7% increase in cost without any improvements guaranteed in the next year. Wysong’s article mentions that Reid will see renovations “sooner than expected” but does not provide a fixed date. Reid houses primarily first-year students whose initial experience of WAC’s housing involves bats in the stairwells and windows that don’t fit in their frames.
WAC’s housing may be inexpensive compared to peer institutions, but that alone should not be adequate reason to raise prices. If the goal is to further much-needed renovations, that’s all well and good. But Dean Feyerherm’s email – and the bulk of Wysong’s article – highlight instead the discrepancies between WAC’s pricing scheme and those of peer institutions.
This, in my opinion, is the wrong focus. Given the problems this semester in my dorm alone this semester, I am just a little bit disgruntled that the school seems to be increasing costs for the sake of it, rather than out of any interest in the student experience.