A group of 10 UTM students met with UTM’s Student Housing and Residence Life, demanding justification for the $400 fee imposed on residence students who stay on campus during the two-week holiday break. Until last year, the fee was only $250.

The amount is equivalent to a month’s rent at Homestead.

Last Monday, both residence students and non-residence students met with Dale Mullings (the director of residence and student life) and Emma Beamson (the communications coordinator) at Oscar Peterson Hall to talk about the $400 fee.

“I just want to find out if their reasons are satisfying, basically, because I can’t be paying $400 to be here for two weeks with no food, just basic electricity, and hardly any security,” said Nengi Adoki, a fifth-year CCIT student, who organized the meeting with Beamson.

According to Mullings, the cost to operate residences during the year is a little more than $200 per week, not including food, but Student Housing and Residence Life has set it at $200 per week.

“I think it’s absolutely fair,” said Mullings. “We have to cover our costs. I do think we’re responding to the needs of students in the most appropriate way.” Mullings said the jump from $250 to $400 two years ago was because the residences were given on-call staff at that time. There was no incident that caused the need for more on-call staff, said Mullings, but there has been an increase in the number of students wishing to reside in residence during those two weeks. The Student Housing Advisory Committee, which provides a forum for students to voice opinions about the Student Housing and Residence Life, was consulted about the fee increase.

“More than half the staff is on call during the holiday, so we’re almost running a full operation,” said Mullings.

Adoki wanted justification for the fact that the $400 fee, which is written in the occupancy agreements that are signed at the beginning of the year, is equivalent to an entire month’s rent at Homestead.

“A student making a choice to stay here versus Homestead receives different services,” said Mullings. “We’re not really talking about the same experiences.”

Students wanted to know how much the on-call staff was actually required during the holiday break.

“It varies,” said Beamson. “There are lockouts, snow closures… It could happen, and we need to be available if that should happen.”

UTM started allowing students to stay on residence over the two-week holiday break six years ago and was one of the first institutions to do so. Waterloo and Ryerson, for example, still do not allow students to stay on residence during the break.