I was disappointed to see the accusations levied against University housing by columnist James Brennan (“Dorm Room Drama” 10/22/12). While I absolutely agree that the residence halls are a great place to build community at the University, Brennan paints too simplistic an argument when it comes to the cost of room and board. Brennan argues that the University rips off freshmen and “overcharges” students who pay room and board in the system.

Brennan enjoys living in the renovated Mosher-Jordan Residence Hall. That renovation is partly paid for by a portion of room and board rates. The individuals who cook the meals at the Hill Dining Center and the staff that ensures the building is clean and safe are all paid for by — you guessed it — room and board rates.

As a former Hall Director in the system, I know University housing has a policy of paying its employees living wages and offering benefits like insurance plans. While I sympathize with Brennan’s financial situation, I wish he’d take the time to look deeper into the numbers. Yes, $11.43 for a meal may seem like a lot, but that supports locally sourced food, cooks who earn more than minimum wage and housing staff who help build the strong sense of community in our residence halls.

The University and its many departments must find ways to minimize cost increases and work to make this place as affordable as possible for students. But before we go around demonizing offices and accusing them of not having the students’s best interest at heart, we should pause and take a moment to go beyond simple and easy explanations. Anything less is a disservice to the education we all receive at this fine institution.

Perry Zielak
Public Policy graduate student

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