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RHA endorses proposed fee increase for residence halls

In its closest vote in recent memory, USF’s Resident Housing Association voted to endorse the proposed housing cost increases Monday.

“As for the vote, I really expected it to be close,” RHA President Oleg Polupan said.

As Director of Residence Services Tom Kane presented the proposed increases to the group, he highlighted his plan to adopt living learning centers in the residence halls.

The living learning centers would include in-hall classrooms and residence halls devoted to students in certain areas of study. As an example, Kane said one of the first living learning centers would be devoted to engineering, catering to students with heavy course loads, and would host a basic course such as calculus.

Though the increases were approved by the Board of Trustees’ Finance and Audit Workgroup on Thursday, Kane said he wanted the input of RHA members.

He emphasized that the measure – which passed with 15 votes for and 14 against, with four abstentions – was an endorsement and did not affect the proposal’s approval.

Kane presented a detailed budget to the group and underscored money earmarked to help jumpstart the 1,000-bed Magnolia II residence hall, which will be completed in July 2009.

“Magnolia II is a $68 million building,” Kane said. “Every dollar we can spend up front on that building is money we don’t have to buy; basically put a mortgage on.”

Polupan said the results of the vote reflected his personal feelings on the issue, but he had to abstain as chair of RHA.

“I can tell you I’m torn on this,” Polupan said. “I definitely see some of the benefits that come from the raise, but I also do think that it’s kind of high and that perhaps some things could have been done to make it slightly lower. … I’m probably leaning toward a yes.”