Students charged for cable

By Jennifer McCabe

Students in the residence halls were charged $5 for their cable needs, even though this policy contradicts NIU’s 1993-94 Residence Hall Student Handbook, the “Guide Post.”

“There are hookups in each student room for connecting a television set and/or FM receiver to a cable antennae system at no charge to you … Missing or damaged hookup cables will result in substantial charges being assessed,” the Guide Post states.

The charge for the cables are $4 and the adaptors are $1. Without these, the students have no way to hook up to the cable system.

In the past when students stole or lost cables or adaptors they were charged. However, now NIU housing wants nothing to do with the cable equipment. Once the cables and adaptors are gone, the students will have to provide their own in the future.

“We provided them before, but many students would bring their own and not use them. Then at the end of the year, the cable or adaptor would be lost and the student would be charged for them,” Linda Tillis, assistant director of Housing said.

“We got a lot of appeal letters from the students saying ‘I never needed it, I never wanted it and now you’re charging me for it.’ It is a very time-consuming business,” Tillis said.

Tillis said the main reason for the recent charge was the time constraints. At the end of each year, more than 1000 cables and adaptors were checked to make sure they worked properly.

When the cables and adaptors are sold, they are then the students’ property, and students do not have the option to sell them back. “We are trying to get out of the cable business, and once purchased, they will be theirs for the rest of time,” Tillis said.

The money collected from the sales will go into the student activity fund, to be used by each individual hall council, Tillis said. The idea was brought up over the summer and then the Residence Hall Association (RHA) was told. “This was not started as a moneymaking project,” Tillis said.

Greg Post, president of the RHA, said he saw it as an opportunity for the residence halls to make more money for their projects, since each hall is limited for programming funding.

Students were not informed beforehand, nor were they approached with the idea.

“We will conduct a survey to see how the students feel about it,” Tillis said. “If the students feel it is an invaluable service, we will try to fix it.”

In the past, students living in the residence halls have not been charged for the use of the cable system at all. Some were surprised when they came to campus this year and found the policy had been changed, without their knowledge.

Some students do not understand why they are being charged. “Don’t the people who steal them have to pay for them? What’s the reasoning?” Randy Rymarcsuk, senior geology major, and resident of Lincoln Hall asked.

His roommate understood, but did not agree. “I can understand because all of those people who take them and don’t return them. But the school didn’t even give us a warning or Radio Shack, so they could compensate for the rush,” said Mark Simmons, sophomore journalism major.

“I thought it was unfair because I heard last year they just gave them to you. We did end up buying ours because we were not getting anything,” said Valerie Palmer, freshman physical therapy major, living in Stevenson South.

“I can’t imagine the inconvenience being that bad that they feel the need to abandon the students’ needs completely,” said Rebecca Frank, junior visual communications major, and resident of Gilbert Hall.

Her roommate agreed: “It seems like the university doesn’t care about the students, like they just want to make a buck,” said Christina Tarr, senior biology major.

“We provided them before, but many students would bring their own and not use them. Then at the end of the year, the cable or adaptor would be lost and the student would be charged for them.”

-Linda Tillis assistant director of Housing