Regents to Discuss New Housing, Health Coverage

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A wide range of issues will be considered by the UC Board of Regents when it meets later this week at UCLA, including the much-publicized proposed student fee increases.

The board will vote on a contentious 15 percent increase in student fees to be implemented in the spring semester, as well as an additional 15 percent increase for the next academic year once the previous increase becomes permanent. Professional schools throughout the UC system will also see fee increases if the board approves them.

While the proposed 32 percent student fee increase is attracting the most attention, two measures, one that would approve the construction of new undergraduate housing at UC Berkeley and one that seeks to change the policy regarding graduate student health insurance, are also going before the regents during their Nov. 17 to 19 meeting.

Construction of new undergraduate student housing could commence as early as next July if the designs of the Anna Head West student housing are approved by the Committee on Grounds and Buildings today.

The new facility would house freshmen and sophomores to help fill the need for 1,600 additional beds-as identified by the campus's 2020 Long Range Development Plan-according to Marty Takimoto, a spokesperson for residential and student service programs.

"We lack the space right now (to house sophomores) and unfortunately second-year students get offered triples," Takimoto said. "This will hopefully allow us to accommodate students in doubles instead of triples."

While the campus has come under criticism for initiating construction projects during the budget crisis, Takimoto said the current recession is the best time to build due to the low cost of materials and demand for construction work.

The project would cost $69.87 million to build, according to Christine Shaff, communications manager for the campus's department of facilities services.

The regents will also vote Nov. 19 on a proposal from the UC Office of the President that would give the office the authority to require proof of health insurance as a condition of enrollment for graduate students.

Each of the individual 10 campuses in the UC system already have this requirement for graduate students, but this proposal would centralize the authority over graduate students in a manner similar to undergraduates.

Claudia Covello, the executive director of University Health Services, says the proposal is a policy shift and its effects would be "invisible" to students' current health plans.

Covello added that if the proposal is passed, it would give the regents the authority to consolidate health plans under one carrier, something the regents have been discussing.

"This creates a basic standard and in the future this could be helpful to control premium costs," Covello said.


Contact Javier Panzar at [email protected]

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