Students in Trinity Housing Pay School More for Less

Undergraduates living in Hunt Hall on the old Trinity College campus are paying substantially more than other students for dorm rooms of comparable size this year. They are also receiving fewer important services from UVM. Hunt residents lack a nearby cafeteria, have had irregular bus service that now comes three times a day and lack access to Ethernet connections and television cables in their dorms. This is the first year that UVM has leased the housing units from now-closed Trinity College. The University just recently renewed the lease to extend it until May, 2003, according to Interim Director of Residential Life, David Clokey. Hunt resident and sophomore Mike Calamari is dissatisfied with the housing situation at Trinity. “We’re, like, pretty much the lab rats,” he said. An extra-large single at Trinity costs about $1,086 more than a large single on Main or East campus, while a double costs roughly $900 more at Trinity than elsewhere. The Trinity housing contracts run two months longer than other contracts, from Aug. 1, 2001 to June 30, 2002, making them more costly. Trinity residents pay a monthly rate equal to what others pay for other dorms, $449 for a double and $543 for an extra-large single. “They’re paying for a couple of additional months because that’s the only agreement that we were able to make with Trinity,” said Clokey. “Instead of charging them from August 1, we charged them from the day they moved into the hall.” The problem is that UVM is unable to provide housing for everyone who requested it for this academic year. UVM converted lounges into triples in order to fit more students into the buildings it already has. Those new spaces filled up. “We ended up with some students on our wait list that we were not going to be able to accommodate.” Clokey said. First priority in dorm selection at UVM is given to returning students, while second priority is given to first-year students. Transfers and non-traditional students rank lowest on the housing totem poll. In early July, Residential Life began the process of informing students of the Trinity contracts as a last resort for access to housing. “There may have been some students who didn’t get notified until the end of July,” said Clokey. Junior Rich Deronda remembers receiving notice from UVM later than that. Calamari, who transferred from community college in New Jersey, received information about Trinity housing and telephone numbers for local apartments from Residential Life a month before coming to UVM. He said he did not know how far Trinity was from other dorm and was disappointed with the services he found on arrival. “It’s not a lot of time” to find an apartment, Calamari said. As he saw it, “Either you accept Trinity, or you’re not on campus.” Roy Ferland, Assistant Director of Residential Life at UVM, said the main obstacle to installing Ethernet and cable TV in the dorms in Hunt Hall is that UVM doesn’t own the property. The Trinity residence halls were constructed in the 1960’s, and installation would be very costly because of the buildings’ designs. “There’s no ability to provide internet access through the current wiring,” said Clokey. The cost of providing housing in the Trinity units is very high for UVM already. According to Clokey, “We already were subsidizing [Trinity housing units] pretty heavily.” Despite the fact that UVM doesn’t own the property, sophomore Calamari still thinks it’s unfair that undergrads in Hunt don’t have access to amenities found elsewhere on campus. “When you see it being provided, and you’re paying the expense cost, you expect it,” Calamari said. Calamari complains that his television only receives CBS and ABC. “All I need is my SportsCenter and I’d be a happy man.” Residential Life considered installing Direct TV to provide cable for at least the lounge areas, but too many trees near dormitory buildings would prevent the small dishes to get a clear signal, Ferland said. Calamari remains convinced, though, that Residential Life has not done all it can to address his concerns. Hunt residents also complain that Hunt lacks a sense of community with the rest of UVM, and it is too far from other dorms. “Since we’re isolated, it creates boredom,” said Calamari. Rich Deronda seemed to hit on the same point, saying, “It’s ridiculous. We’re stuck out in the middle of nowhere.” Calamari acknowledges that some students in Hunt have been in a fair deal of trouble with Judicial Affairs. “You can’t help but to see bad things happen when people are disgruntled,” he said.