Budget ballots set to be cast

Arianna Layton

For the first time ever, Iowa State students will cast their ballots for a Department of Residence budget next Monday.

Inter-Residence Hall Association (IRHA) senators and representatives will vote on the Department of Residence base budget for the 1997-98 academic year, as well as three other potential options added to room and board plans.

The vote on the base budget will be an advisory vote and “is not necessarily binding,” said Randy Alexander, director of the Department of Residence.

The votes on the three new options will be definitive.

These pending options — which include two ethernet connections in every room, voice mail in every room and juice at every meal — are based on requests students have made in the past, Alexander said.

Having more student input in where student money goes is “something we were pushing for,” said IRHA President Rob Wiese, “and Randy is more open to it.”

Where student money for room and board goes is particularly of interest because residence halls are funded primarily by student money, Wiese said.

The Department of Residence is an auxiliary enterprise that receives no funding from the state. Ninety percent of its income comes from students’ pockets.

Although the student vote on the base budget is not binding, Wiese said he thinks Alexander’s sentiment is that “if [IRHA] didn’t pass it then it was not good enough for him, too.”

“Maybe in the future, [the administration] will believe in students enough to get a full vote,” Wiese said.

Alexander presented a budget proposal for next year’s room and board fees to IRHA Monday night.

The budget calls for a base increase of 3.96 percent from last year’s room and board fees for a standard, undergraduate double-occupancy room. The result would raise fees from $3,508 to $3,647.

The double room costs would increase by $109 and a full meal plan, which consists of 20 meals per week, would cost $30 more.

Wiese said his initial impression of the proposed budget is that it is “pretty competitive.” Other universities, he said, are asking for increases of about six percent.

“The three add-ons are where the real money comes into play,” he said.

For an additional $48 a year, all students will be provided with ethernet connections in their rooms if IRHA passes the option.

“This will benefit some people and not others,” Alexander said.

People without computers would not be able to take advantage of the hook-up.

“I think we see an increase in the number of students bringing computers each year,” Alexander said.

Students would still have to buy ethernet cards for their computers. Wiese said IRHA may be able to provide cheaper prices at a bulk rate.

However, hook-up and monthly fees would no longer be charged because they would be offset by the additional $48 that would go entirely to the university’s telecommunications office to fund ethernet connections.

“We’re not making a dime on this,” Alexander said. “We’re not trying to sell ethernet. This is entirely up to you. We don’t care.”

The second option, having voice mail for the phone in each room, would cost an extra $12 each year.

Many students already have answering machines, but voice mail provides a few additional services that answering machines do not. For example, if someone is talking on the phone and another person tries to call, the caller will be connected with the voice mail rather than getting a busy signal.

The third option, having juice served at every meal, would increase basic meal plan charges by $18. This cost is based on estimated juice consumption increases offset by decreased soft drink use for Minute Maid, said Stewart Burger, director of food service.

“We really want to hear from students, whether they want these options or not,” Alexander said.

Residence Hall Rate Increases Up for a Vote

Room (Double room) % $

Mandatory Rate Increase for 1997-98 6.2 109

Ethernet option 2.7 48

Voice Mail option .7 12

Meal Plan (20 meals) % $

Mandatory Rate Increase 1.7 30

Juice at every meal option .7 18

Total % $

Room and Board Fees 1996-97 3.96 3,508

Proposed 1997-98 Fees w/ all options 6.19 3,725

House vice presidents will vote Mon., Feb. 3, at their weekly meeting to approve or reject the options.