U eyes cable in dorm costs

University housing officials are in talks to add cable TV to future room prices.

Emily Kaiser

As early as next fall, residence hall bills may include cable TV as part of the charge.

Housing and Residential Life is early in the process of adding cable TV to all residence halls and apartments as part of the housing bill, said Mannix Clark, associate director of Housing and Residential Life.

Clark said housing officials have a meeting with Time Warner, the provider of University cable, in the next two weeks to discuss potential bulk cable rates which could go into effect as early as fall semester 2006.

If the University were to buy cable at a bulk rate for student rooms, Clark said, the monthly cost of cable would be reduced, but the University will not know how much until it negotiates with Time Warner.

The current cable plan for students, which includes local and cable channels, costs $52 a month.

Clark said this is not the first time the University considered a bulk cable deal. Sixty percent of students who took a survey two years ago said they were interested in cable being provided through housing, Clark said.

At the time of the survey, students were experiencing double-digit tuition increases, he said, and the department didn’t want to add extra cost for students.

“We want to make sure we don’t make it too expensive to live on campus,” he said.

Time Warner multiple dwelling units manager Darrel Knauss said he could not disclose University prices, but said the deal will be a win-win situation for the students and Time Warner.

“The client can get our standard cable for a substantial discount and we know we are going to have a constant revenue stream,” he said.

Time Warner saves money, Knauss said, because it can turn on all the units at once.

“We wouldn’t have to bother the University every fall when students come back to activate the units,” he said.

Pioneer Hall vice president Brad Hanson said the Housing and Residential Life Student

Advisory Board discussed the issue at their past two meetings.

“There are a lot of concerns about the quality of service and cable TV being a hassle right now,” he said.

Hanson said the charge would be put into the housing bill like laundry and phone services, whether students use them or not.

Residential Housing Association vice president Jenna Strain said the group did not discuss the issue extensively, but it has looked at the future of cable for students.

“The younger population in the residential halls thinks we should have cable because they have friends at other Big Ten schools that have it built in already,” she said.

First-year business and finance student Ken McDonald said he already has cable in his room and thinks most students would benefit from a cheaper cable plan.

“A lot of people who don’t have it complain because it’s so expensive, but they want it,” he said.

First-year electrical engineering student Mithun Suresh said he doesn’t have a TV in his room and would not like being charged for the service.

“I haven’t watched much TV since I’ve been here,” he said.

McDonald said charging students who don’t want cable would not be fair, but there are many services students pay for and don’t use.

“I know people who take laundry home and it’s not fair for them to have a laundry charge either,” he said.

Despite the current discussions, Clark said a decision about cable will not be made until January when Housing and Residential Life has received estimates from the University about housing and tuition costs for next year.