Ahead of next week's RHA meeting, committees are meeting to discuss fee hikes proposed by the University of Maryland's transportation and dining services departments, as well as increases for certain dorms.
During last week's Residence Hall Association meeting, three proposals were put forward. DOTS proposed a 16 percent increase in parking permit fees for fiscal 2019. Resident Life proposed a 3 percent increase to the cost of a traditional air-conditioned dorm for the 2018-19 academic year. Lastly, Dining Services proposed a 2.5 percent increase to the cost of a meal plan for the next school year.
Next week, the RHA will vote on whether the proposals should be passed.
Doron Tadmor, the chair of the Dining Services Advisory Board committee, said the increases to the campus dining plan were reasonable. A meal plan for the 2017-18 academic year was $4,532 — not including a new student fee — which would increase to $4,645 the next academic year, if the proposal passes.
"The fee increase is targeted to allow the different departments to pay their staff for higher standards, which will benefit students in the long run," said Tadmor, a sophomore international business and operations management and business analytics major.
Dining Services has to increase costs of a meal plan in order to accommodate national standards, which are constantly changing and improving, said Tadmor.
Aaron Abshire, the head of RHA's Transportation Advisory Committee, said the DOTS budget proposal is pricey because of the parking garage being built under the proposed new public policy building. The new construction comes in anticipation of a loss of parking spaces due to campus construction next semester, including Cole Field House.
Even though there is a large increase to the cost of a parking permit, DOTS needs more revenue to be supported. Many students use transportation, and it's significantly less funded than Resident Life, said Abshire, a freshman enrolled in letters and sciences.
On-campus parking permits cost $293 for commuter students and $567 for on-campus residents for this academic year. The proposal would force commuter students to pay $340 for an academic year-long parking permit, and on-campus residents would pay $658. This increase will account for DOTS costs next year, which will be nearly $1 million, said Abshire.
The RHA's Sustainability Committee will also discuss the DOTS proposal, said its chair, Dan Laffin.
From a sustainability position, Laffin said the budget is not very eco-friendly because it proposes another parking garage. It would be more eco-friendly to have less parking, rather than building more, to encourage students to drive less, said Laffin.
"From a purely sustainable standpoint, it's not the most sustainable because you could use public transportation or car pooling and, financially, it is a steep increase of fees," said Laffin, a sophomore government and politics major.
The two committees that discuss the Resident Life budget — Resident Life Advisory Team and the Resident Facilities Advisory Board — have a joint committee meeting this week on Friday. Living in an air-conditioned double dorm room this year cost $7,190, but if the proposal is passed, the cost will jump to $7,425 for the 2018-19 academic year.