Sunday, August 25

Editorial: 24-hour Hedrick study lounge exorbitantly expensive, unnecessary

UCLA housing officials plan to spend $8.2 million over the next year to build a needlessly expensive study spot in Hedrick dining hall.

Of the total cost, $2.4 million is set to go to architectural costs, including finishings and furnishings. About $2.5 million would go to electrical, mechanical and plumbing costs, and the rest would go to demolition, kitchen equipment and contingency.

While some of the costs make sense – improving the electrical wiring and demolishing parts of the dining hall that are no longer needed, for example – UCLA housing officials should spend our money more reasonably when it comes to the design of the study room. The pretty furniture and expensive architectural improvements are little comfort in the face of ballooning housing costs that stretch students’ budgets and drive them further into debt.

The cost of living on the Hill has gone up steadily in recent years. In the 2009-2010 school year, staying in a triple in a standard residence hall and having two meals a day cost about $10,430. This school year, it cost $11,970.

That cost is difficult to justify in itself, particularly at a public university that is supposed to provide affordable and accessible education for all Californians. But it becomes almost impossible to explain in the context of the myriad of improvements the Hill has undertaken in the past several years alone.

Housing has been planning million-dollar projects on a regular basis in recent years, including Rendezvous, De Neve dining hall and Bruin Plate building and renovations. De Neve dining hall and Rendezvous renovation budgets amounted to about $3.6 million recently, and Hedrick dining hall has also switched from a test kitchen to De Neve at Hedrick in the last two school years.

The study room is a needlessly exorbitant addition to the Hill that drives costs up more than it benefits students living in the dorms.

To be fair, students on the Hill have often complained about not having enough places to study or get food overnight, and this project would help alleviate that problem. Expanding UCLA’s bakery operations as a part of the Hedrick renovation project to save the university money from outsourcing pastries is also a smart move.

But we don’t have to spend $8 million to get those benefits.

Housing officials say they are taking the better road by trying to deliver the “lowest cost, highest quality” dining options for UCLA students.

But students need less-expensive food and dorms more than they need to write on fancy tables and sit on upscale couches. UCLA housing needs to start prioritizing lowest cost options instead of letting them take a back seat to misguided notions about what college students need.

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  • Guest of a Guest

    When has the cost of anything ever gone down? Commodities and energy costs have increased over the years. The Editorial Board should create an assignment where one reporter tries living off-campus in COMPARABLE conditions as on-campus housing and see if it is equal to, or less, than $11,970. The reason it costs that much is because students are benefiting from the “bulk discount” of thousands of other students living and sharing the residences. I doubt students would care to prepare similar style meals, pay monthly bills, worry about a lease, cleaning their apartment, etc. When you live on the hill, you pay for convenience. The same reason a 20 oz bottle of soda will cost more at a Chevron than a 2 liter at Ralphs. I think students are in for a rude awakening when they really need to live on their own, as in: parents are not involved in the handling, payment, or support in any kind of way adult living.

    • Man Of

      gas is going down :D

  • Blake Dervish

    “But we don’t have to spend $8 million to get those benefits.”

    Who is “we?” You won’t personally be paying for it. Much like the Pauley Pavilion renovation, it’s likely that the school will simply try to raise the money through alumni donations. Also, for a school with an on-campus residency of such a magnitude, is it unreasonable to spend and have a 24-hour study lounge and dining area? I think it’s absolutely necessary, and the $8.6 million sunk cost will create benefits for years to come. If you solely care about tuition remaining affordable, you should write an editorial on how veiled propositions (such as Proposition 30, which Jerry Brown personally came to UCLA to support) are promising temporary tuition freezes, but are overall raising the costs much, MUCH more than a renovated dining hall — and these are costs that WILL be passed down to you through your tuition, eventually.

    • Mark

      UCLA Housing is financially independent of the rest of the University and thus isn’t subject to the same budget cuts, etc imposed by the state. It’s a very successful business all on its own; I’m pretty sure student fees and development bonds pay for everything on the hill!
      Very roughly if you’ve got 10,000 students on the hill at $10,000 apiece, that’s a 100 million dollar annual operating budget. They have plenty of cheddar for improvements.

      • Teddy Edwards

        The Hill consists of 17 high-rise towers and 5 low-rise residential complexes housing 11,000 residents.

  • Guest

    All students ever seem to want is MORE for NOTHING. Nice things cost money, people. If you complain about wanting more study space, then it’s going to cost something. $8 million is too much, then propose an alternate solution yourself. Don’t criticize without offering a suggestion.

  • Teddy Edwards

    Excuse me. What bona fides, what credentials, what research, what brain power, what surveying experience, what special insight does the Editorial Board possess among its members that hold any substantial weight in evaluating this or any building project at UCLA? And who are they to say what students need? Who and how many students on campus have asked the Editorial Board to speak on their behalf?

    Does the arrogance ever cease?