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Halls justify different annual fees

Katie Peralta and John Tierney | Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A Notre Dame education costs more than $45,000 per year, but the hall tax fee included in that bill varies significantly from dorm to dorm. For example, freshman residents of Badin hall paid $100 before moving in this year, while the men of Sorin paid $40. The taxes vary from dorm to dorm because each residence hall has the freedom to choose the housing deposit that will meet the dorm’s needs for the year. Residence halls with higher taxes generally are able to provide more activities and supplies for free during the year. In the case of Badin, a small dorm population – just 123 women – caused the dorm to ask more from each resident.”The smaller the number of residents, the [greater] need for a higher tax,” said Badin rector Denise Lyon. Badin upperclassmen pay a $75 fee to help cover the hall’s activities and expenses throughout the year, which include dorm dinners, other events, decorations and items for common use. Badin recently purchased a set of weights using hall tax funds, Lyon said.As in most dorms, freshmen pay a higher hall tax to cover freshman orientation activities.Though the Office of Student Accounts Web site uses a $50 deposit to project total housing costs for prospective students, it does say the hall tax is subject to change.At $90, the freshman Carroll Hall residents pay the highest hall tax of any men’s residence hall on campus, with upperclassmen in the same dorm paying $10 less every year. The Carroll freshmen, however, receive a hall shirt in return for their additional payment. And though other male dorms on campus may have lower hall taxes, Carroll does not require its residents to pay for dances, food for game watches, hall government expenses, receptions or other programs, according to Carroll rector Father Jim Lewis.The dorm also subsidizes section- and hall-wide programs, such as movies at the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center and paintballing, Lewis said. Residents of Alumni and Morrissey Halls also pay $80 to the dorm. Neither Hall charges residents for hall events such as dances but in dorms like Keenan and Siegfried, where the hall tax is between $50 and $60, residents have to cover dance fees themselves.That is also the case for the residents of Sorin College. While Sorin residents enjoy the lowest hall tax of any dorm on campus – $40 every year – they must pay to attend the dorm’s dances. The Sorin dance earlier this semester came with a $15 price tag per couple, Sorin rector Father Jim King said.However, the dorm does pay for food for game watches, study days and a cookout on football Fridays, King said. The dorm has been able to save its residents $20 thanks to financial assistance from former residents at its annual alumni reunion, King said. Lyons Hall also charges its freshmen more than its other residents – $60 for first-year students versus $50 for sophomores, juniors and seniors – to help pay for the events during orientation.”The extra $10 for the freshmen goes to cover the expenses of Frosh-O, which are considerable,” Lyons rector Denise McOsker said. “And [the Lyons] Hall Council is thinking about raising the freshman rate to $70 next year.”Lyons’s tax funds cover such expenses as the dorm’s printing and mailing costs, interhall sports fees and exercise equipment.”While we also charge a nominal fee for dance tickets and hall apparel,” McOsker said, “it would be considerably more if we didn’t have hall taxes to subsidize the cost of food, music, ballroom space, etc. for the dances and the cost and printing of the T-shirts, sweats, etc.”Most dorms divide housing deposit funds among different committees. At Pasquerilla East, the residents’ $50 fees are spread across the different committees that take care of dances, hall council proceedings, multicultural gatherings and Big Sister/Little Sister events, among other activities.”Each commission gets a budget to host different events in the [Pasquerilla East] community,” Pasquerilla East rector Breyan Tornifolio said.Breen-Phillips tapped into its hall tax fund to purchase a new treadmill last year, said Breen-Phillips rector Rachel Kellogg.And with the upcoming holiday season, she and other rectors (from both male and female dorms) said hall tax funds will be used to buy gifts for housekeeping personnel and snacks for students during exam week.