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McMaster University tries triple bunking

Option of putting up students in hotel is rejected

Hamilton Spectator - August 13, 2002

The McMaster Students Union has urged the university to put first-year students in a downtown hotel instead of jamming three into residence rooms designed for two.

MSU President Evan Mackintosh says the students would have more space at the Royal Connaught Howard Johnson Plaza-Hotel and the cost would not be prohibitive.

In 1993, the university placed about 100 students in the Connaught temporarily, three to a room, in a separate wing of the hotel. Because the university was still short 50 spaces, it had to move an extra bed into some of the larger rooms on campus.

This year, McMaster found itself 284 beds short, and decided to convert 160 double rooms into triples. Each room will have two regular bunk beds, plus a loft-style bunk with a desk underneath it. Some large single rooms will become doubles and study areas may be converted into bed space.

Phil Wood, the university's associate vice-president of student affairs, said the hotel idea was ruled out, but cost wasn't the reason. "We simply decided we wanted the students on campus," he said. "We were not crazy about having them in downtown Hamilton."

Wood said Shano Mohan, president of the Inter-Residence Council (IRC), also thought that keeping students on campus was the better alternative.

The IRC represents students living in residence.

In a letter to Wood, Mackintosh complained that the students' union wasn't consulted during the decision-making process. He described the IRC's involvement as minimal and said there were violations of the residence consultation document approved by the university senate. He admits Mohan disagrees with the student union recommendations on the issue.

Students accepting the newly-converted triples will pay $500 less than the regular room rate of $3,465 a year. The MSU wants a more generous fee structure. When Wilfrid Laurier University in Kitchener resorted to triple bunking last year, the affected students received a reduction of $800 each.

McMaster students who reject the triple rooms will get their deposits back but nothing else. Laurier students who gave up their rooms also got a $500 credit at the bookstore.

Wood pointed out that McMaster is providing fridges for students in the triples. Modifying the rooms involved considerable added costs including computer hookups and additional furniture, he said. "We are not in this to make money, believe me."

McMaster got far more acceptances than it expected after guaranteeing residence to every applicant with an average of 75 per cent or more. The university bought bunk beds from Laurier, which is opening an additional residence this fall. Mac will have a new 280-bed residence finished in time for September, 2003.

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