The new meal plan brings unlimited meals and no RCC.
Rental costs at the University of Saskatchewan are reviewed annually to match changes in cost of living and student input. Study lounges, an unlimited meal plan and mental health services are among the changes coming to the student residences this year.
Rent cost is going up in all the residences in varying amounts. In Voyageur Place, the eight-month term rent is going up by $335 for single rooms and $297.70 for double units. The increases for McEown Park, College Quarter and Graduate House range from $72 for Seager Wheeler units to $304 for College Quarter’s one-bedroom units.
Quintin Zook, director of consumer services at the U of S, says renovations to the residence buildings this year will be in the form of small maintenance projects.
“This year, we are targeting some smaller projects like upgrading some units and replacing some flooring that’s getting deteriorated,” Zook said.
Zook says that in the apartment-style residences, the focus is on upgrading finishings like blinds or carpets. In the older Voyageur Place buildings, student lounges will be transformed into study lounges to match reported student interest.
“We need to buy new furniture to convert those spaces to create more lounge study space — students are looking for those types of space more often — more in Voyageur Place. Newer residences are built like that already,” Zook said.
Another change for Voyageur Place residents comes in the form of the new Unlimited Dining Meal Plan. Starting in the 2019 fall term, students on the meal plan will have unlimited access to the Marquis Dining Hall instead of the former 17 meals per week. The new system is meant to give flexibility to fit students’ schedules and promote healthier eating habits.
The meal plan will no longer include its $400 dollars in Residence Cash Card, accepted at Marquis Hall and other U of S food services outlets like the campus Tim Horton’s, Starbucks and Subway locations. Students can still purchase RCC through the Culinary Services.
Zook says the university consults students before changing the residence rental amounts by meeting with the vice-president of student affairs from the U of S Students’ Union and the Graduate Students’ Association.
“Some years we’ve taken their feedback and decreased some rates based on it, depending on what the plan is,” Zook said.
Zook explains that student feedback is also collected through surveys and maintenance forms to inform how the money is used.
“We’ve done surveys in the past — we do them a lot more in Voyageur Place on the culinary side to find out how the food is,” Zook said. “Then we have maintenance forms to know where maintenance issues are happening, to see how we can address them and have them not come up in the following year.”
As a result of student feedback, Zook says the residences will be investing in mental-health resources in the years to come. A counsellor-in-residence initiative is currently being tested.
“We are testing it out as a means of response to our students who live in residence, for their mental health needs and other concerns that they have, as a direct resource,” Zook said. “We find that probably we are going to spend a little bit more in that in the coming years knowing that’s increasing in scope and risk for the university.”
Ana Cristina Camacho / News Editor
Photo: Heywood Yu