The approved $26.3 million budget includes an average combined room and board rate increase of 2.51 percent for 2017-2018, according to Dr. Debbie Below, vice president for enrollment management and student success and dean of students.
The average room rate increase will be 1.97 percent for fiscal 2018, which takes into account costs to continue for staff, student labor, operations, maintenance and repairs. Below said the new housing rates reflect an average projected occupancy rate of 92.3 percent based on a projected beginning freshmen class near the University’s fall 2016 beginning freshmen enrollment of 1,858 students.
“The rate schedule,” she said, “reflects an effort to hold room rate increases to a minimum to help students contain costs.”
In addition, the Board approved a 3.5 percent increase in board rates for fiscal 2018. This rate is consistent with the terms of the University’s new dining contract with Chartwells. Under that contract, Chartwells committed capital investment funds to enhance programs and renovate facilities, including expansion of Subway and a new coffee concept in Scully Building in summer 2015; the addition of Panda Express last February in the University Center; and a $3.3 million renovation of the dining room and kitchen in Towers Café, including an allergen friendly station and more made-to-order items, in summer 2016.
The full rate schedule is available at http://semo.edu/residencelife/halls/index.html.
In her presentation to the Board, Below noted several Residence Life highlights for fiscal 2018.
- Rates for rooms in Dearmont Hall – which is a popular option for students, offering single rooms throughout the building – will increase by 2.17 percent to $5,650 annually. Both B and C wings in Dearmont have received electrical system upgrades over the past few months after a power outage in August displaced 51 students.
- The additional $30 room rate charge approved for fiscal 2017 allowing students access to their residence hall rooms during academic year breaks has resulted in significantly more students remaining during the Thanksgiving and winter breaks. Figures show 342 students in fall 2016 compared to 148 in fall 2015 stayed in their rooms over the Thanksgiving break, and 462 in fall 2016 compared to 257 in fall 2015 stayed during the winter break.
- The opening of four new chapter houses in the Greek Village will add 107 new beds to the residence hall system. This move will then open up beds currently being used by three of those chapters in the Group Housing area, also known as Greek Hill. Residence Life anticipates two additional chapters will be then moved into the vacated Group Housing space on campus in fall 2017.
- Cheney Hall, closed in summer 2015, will remain offline in fiscal 2018 for structural repairs and renovation. The temporary closure of Cheney Hall and ongoing space utilization efforts have prompted Residence Life and Facilities Management to discuss several long-term facility use opportunities. Foundation repairs were made to Cheney Hall in Fall 2016.