EMU Board of Regents' Meeting: Campus Housing talks affordability
Board rates were not part of the presentation the Housing Department gave about increasing student interest in campus living to the Student Affairs Committee at 2 p.m. Tuesday in Welch Hall.
Brian Fitzgerald, associate director of Residential Services, acknowledged that off-campus housing is often more affordable than on-campus housing.
“It is hard to compete on the private side,” he said.
Fitzgerald listed a number of factors that inform the discrepancies between on and off campus living rates.
“We give money back to the university to support our operations. We have to put money into such things as financial aid,” Fitzgerald said. “I think some of the businesses off-campus are also running at a very thin margin. You’ve seen some of them go out of business.”
In addition to these factors, Fitzgerald said the lenience the department shows toward students increases its overall expenses.
“Let’s say you lived on-campus and suddenly you had a death in the family, we’d release you. An apartment would say, ‘That’s fine, but you’re paying.’ They hold you to the lease. So all of those things add up,” he said.
Despite the high cost of campus living relative to off-campus living, Fitzgerald said the issue has to be viewed in perspective of how expensive campus living is at other institutions.
“If you look across the state at different colleges and universities, we are one of the more affordable ones,” he said.
According to the Housing Department website, boarding in a valley double room with a platinum meal plan costs each student $7,896 per year. A comparable room and meal option would cost $8,249 at Western Michigan University, $7,880 at Central Michigan University, and $8,120 at Grand Valley State University.
Despite the high cost of campus housing, officials from the Housing Department explained initiatives they’ve taken to increase student interest in living on-campus in the department’s presentation to the Student Affairs committee.
One of those initiatives was to consolidate the offices for housing and the university apartments. It was said doing so would provide students
with “one-stop shopping” and avoid duplicative services.
Another initiative was to create more “showrooms” around campus for incoming students to see.
According to Colleen Tompkins, assistant director of Residential Services, the department has struck deals with Bed Bath & Beyond and Ikea. These companies furnish the showrooms free of charge so they can advertise their products to new students.
“Bed Bath & Beyond has been doing it with us for the last few years. They have been doing it for the Walton/Putnam showroom,” Tompkins said.
“This year, we sent out a request to a number of vendors. Bed Bath & Beyond wanted to expand so they have a couple rooms now. Ikea was very interested and just set up a room in Downing this week. We’re hoping they’ll do the Village.”
Other initiatives included encoding room access on student IDs for students living in the first year center, beginning the WISD program and developing the fitness trail program.Originally Published: 02/22/12 9:22pm