Movin’ out: UB students discuss annual Campus Living charges, fees

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When Arielis Rosales removed a painting from her wall as a freshman in Wilkeson Hall, she said some of the wallpaper came off.

Less than a month later, she was charged $50.

“The damage was noticeable but not that bad,” said Rosales, a senior psychology and Spanish major. “The circumference of the hole in the wall seemed like it was less than a centimeter. It was small.”

“I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t take you an hour to fix that. I think [$50] is too much. It takes too much money for one little thing.”

Rosales and other students have been charged by Campus Living after moving out of the on-campus dorms and apartments. The charges can vary based on the need for a repair/removal and include everything from fridge removal to wall repairs.

“I can share that oftentimes the damage cost would be shared amongst the residents in the room/apartment and that Campus Living will not apply charges that are less than $10.00,” said Meegan Hunt, associate director of Campus Living.

Hunt said that of the 7,750 people in the residence halls and apartments last year, approximately 35 residents were charged. The charges totaled under $500, according to Hunt.

At the end of each academic year, students receive a bulleted list from Campus Living, detailing how to appropriately check out of their rooms. Campus Living asks students to remove any personal items from their living space.

Hunt said Campus Living offers pre-inspections by appointment to give students an opportunity to remove or reduce charges. The pre-inspections don’t eliminate potential charges later on, according to Hunt.

After students move out, custodial and maintenance staff survey the living space. Hunt said if possible charges like abandoned property, excessive cleaning and/or damage beyond normal “wear and tear” are spotted, a Campus Living hall/complex director or property manager responds.

A determination is made based on the living space’s condition report and a photograph of the potential charge. Some violations are charged per hour of work it takes to repair and depend on the staff member responding, according to Hunt. Per-hour charges this year include cleaning graffiti, $20/hour; personal items left in the room, $20/hour; and holes/paint tears, $37/hour.

Hunt said any fees collected by Campus Living from move-out charges cover material/supply cost as well as cost of labor.

Malcom Gray, a senior political science major, said students who are moving out are focused on going home. Gray said he hasn’t been charged himself but thinks it is UB’s responsibility to pay employees for move out repairs/charges.

“I think the term ‘normal’ wear and tear could be anything, if it’s a hole in the wall I understand but if it’s just like paint coming off the walls, we shouldn’t be charged for that,” Gray said.

Miriam Monfiston, a senior health and human services major minoring in education, has never been charged but has lived on campus her entire academic career. Monfiston said she thinks Campus Living’s definition for move-out charges is clear.

“I’ve never experienced it but I think it’s generally a decent explanation from them about what should be left clean and what could be charged,” Monfiston said. “Charges like $37/hour for a tear in the wall shouldn’t take an hour, so it’s not that unreasonable of a fee.”

Rosales said she feels she should have been charged but $50 seemed too much.

“You don’t have to fix the whole wall, you just have to plaster the little hole I made,” Rosales said. “I do think some things are overpriced here and we’re still going to pay it because we need a place to live for our education considering we are college students.”

SUNY Stony Brook also charges departing students based on work and materials used to repair/clean rooms. Potential charges, according to the 2018-19 occupancy report, include damages from decorations, damaged furniture, damaged carpets, leaving of any items and damage “beyond normal wear and tear.”

SUNY Oswego’s residential staff members identify damage after inspection and talk to residents about their concern. Before students move out, they are notified of charges, which are collected by residential life in about a month.

The school also has an “incentive fund program” meant to reduce damage. Through the program, Oswego offers residence halls money each semester which go toward select repairs. The money at the end of the year is provided to hall councils which can be used to better hall programming/life.

Rosales said she feels like Campus Living should offer freshmen more ways out of potential move out fees.

“As soon as students come in, they’re so excited. You’re wanting to decorate your room but it takes you a couple of tries to figure out what works on the walls where you don’t make damages,” Rosales said.

“For freshmen, there should just be a warning or maybe a program for them to make up for the damage they’ve done. For juniors and seniors, though, I think you should know what works on the walls.”

Benjamin Blanchet is the senior features editor and can be reached at benjamin.blanchet@ubspectrum.com and @BenjaminUBSpec.

BENJAMIN BLANCHET


 Benjamin Blanchet is a graduate student and student journalist based in Buffalo, New York. Aside from The Spectrum, Blanchet has appeared in Brooklyn’s ARTSY Magazine and New York’s RESPECT. Magazine.