The University of Maryland RHA passed two resolutions Tuesday night in support of increasing fees for student meal plans and residential housing for the next fiscal year. The fee increases will help fund department maintenance expenses, salary adjustments and other costs.
The Resident Life department proposed a rate increase of 4.16 percent for a traditional double room with air conditioning and the dining services department proposed a rate increase of 8.81 percent for the resident student meal plan.
This means students would pay an extra $369 each year for a double room in a traditional air conditioned dorm and an extra $236 per semester for an on-campus meal plan. The plan is still subject to change after consultation with university administrators, said sophomore government and politics major Erika Holdren, the dining services representative.
The Resident Life fee increases will help generate more than $3.3 million in revenue for “unavoidable” board costs, according to the resolution. More than $2 million of the costs will fund salary and wage adjustments and almost $600,000 of the costs will fund net increases in utilities and Facilities Management maintenance.
Resident Life director Dennis Passarella-George spoke to the Residence Hall Association Senate about why these costs are important.
“We’ve worked hard over the decades to keep our fee increases as low as we possibly can have them be,” Passarella-George said.
The resolution, sponsored by Denton representative and sophomore neuroscience major Sumaya Abedin, passed 16-0 with two abstentions.
Leonardtown representative and sophomore government and politics major Sage Neale came into the meeting thinking $3 million could be costly for students. However, after listening to Passarella-George, he realized they did what they could.
The standard room rate increase this year is less than half of last year’s 9.76 percent.
The dining services fee increases will help generate more than $3.9 million in additional budgeted revenues. Nearly 60 percent of the additional revenue will help fund salary and wage adjustments, according to the proposal. More than $1.2 million of the revenue will fund an increase in cost of food products.
The resolution, sponsored by Oakland representative and sophomore government and politics major Ian Gould, passed 11-4 with two abstentions.
Dining services interim director Joe Mullineaux said the main fiscal goals were to provide $15 minimum hourly pay, check cost of living adjustments for staff, cover food and supply cost increases and address required university charge increases.
Gould expressed concern about the 11.2 percent increase in food prices over the past year, which was considered for the $1.2 million of the revenue that will fund an increase in cost of food products.
“It wouldn’t be fair to charge the students [in] 2024 this 11 percent price this far out when there’s a possibility that what we observe for the inflation that’s occurred so far, could in fact, go down,” Gould said.
Holdren pointed out dining services already decreased the 8.81 percent rate by nearly 3 percent already. She said the fee increase is largely due to the opening of Yahentamitsi Dining Hall, and allowing for more funds for staffing and food.
“Looking at this now, this is the best representation that they can give us for the fee increase for the upcoming year,” Holdren said.