Housing contract buyout fee angers students

It will cost freshman Mike Johnson about $500 to move out of his residence hall.

"If you're not going to be there next semester, I don't think you should have to pay a penalty for moving out," said Johnson, who plans to leave Wolpers Hall and move into the Delta Tau Delta fraternity house at the end of the semester.

Johnson is one of many students who wishes to move out of his residence hall at the end of the semester, but he will need to exercise the buyout option in his housing contract to do so. The contract states that any MU student who wishes to cancel his or her residence hall contract after Aug. 26 must pay 25 percent of the remaining contract charges for that year. It will cost MU residents between $500 and $600 to leave their residence halls at the end of this semester.

This angers many students who believe housing contracts should be only a semester long instead of the current year-long system.

"I wish they would do contracts on a semester basis. Many students' needs change dramatically from semester to semester," said sophomore Tiffany Norman, who is moving into the Kappa Delta sorority house next semester.

Residential Life Director Frankie Minor said year-long contracts are actually in place to save students money. They help maintain predictability in residence hall occupancy and operating costs.

"One of the ways of keeping the rates low is by having a fairly predictable occupancy," Minor said.

Minor said Residential Life calculates only a marginal profit into its residence hall rates.

He added that if not for the 25 percent policy, any loss of revenue as a result of students breaking their contracts would result in an increase in rates for other students.

"I can't afford to run into a deficit," Minor said. "[We] might have to raise rates to cover the possibility that people may move out second semester."

Minor said students who leave school are not required to purchase the remainder of their contracts, and other students with special circumstances can apply for exempt status.

But Minor has little sympathy for students moving off campus or into Greek houses at the end of the semester. He said when students sign housing contracts at the beginning of the semester, they should be expected to fulfill their contracts regardless of their desire to move elsewhere.

He said Greeks serve their own self-interests in encouraging members to move into their houses.

"You've got two different groups who are trying to maintain an expectation," Minor said. "The university is trying to maintain an expectation for a contract you've already signed, and an organization [is] trying to maintain an expectation when you join that organization."

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