As most students celebrate the last day of classes and buckle down to study for exams, the University Board of Regents will meet tomorrow to discuss residence hall rate increases among other issues. At the meeting, Vice President for Student Affairs E. Royster Harper will propose a 5.3 percent increase in the cost of room and board for the next fiscal year. Harper will also propose a 4.5 percent increase in family housing.
University Housing spokesman Alan Levy said the increase came from four main components including inflation, utilities increases, insurance cost increases and new renovations such as the security initiatives that were implemented last fall.
Regent Olivia Maynard (D-Goodrich) said she has not looked over the report thoroughly enough to make a solid decision, but she understands Harper’s proposal because of the University’s budgetary situation. Gov. Jennifer Granholm proposed a 6.5 percent cut in state funding to higher education last month and her plan awaits legislative approval.
Regent Andrew Richner (R-Grosse Pointe Park) also said he just received the meeting’s agenda Monday and has not had time to look over the proposed changes. But he expects to do a lot of listening at tomorrow’s meeting to Harper and President Mary Sue Coleman.
“I don’t want to make any commitment until I know exactly what the issues are,” Richner said. “I’m hoping to hear the reasoning behind the proposal.”
Although no new residence hall has been built at the University since 1968, renovations include a major security increase this year due to a wave of home invasions and robberies last winter. Doors now remain locked 24 hours a day and the installation of archival video cameras and automatic door locks began last fall.
“They’ve upgraded fire. They’ve upgraded windows. They’ve been incrementally improving them,” Maynard said.
If approved, the cost of living in traditional residence hall singles, doubles and triples rises to $7,988, $6,704 and $5,920, respectively.
The cost of living in a double this year was $6,366. Although several top universities rank above the University of Michigan in housing costs, the University’s costs were the highest of the Big Ten schools.
But Levy noted that the University has had the lowest percentage increases of the Big Ten schools during the last five years. He added that the University is always looking for new cost-cutting initiatives to keep rates down.
“We have saved millions of dollars,” Levy said, referring to schemes undertaken in the last 20 years to conserve heat and electricity.
Other issues to be discussed at the Regents meeting include an approval of the schematic design of a new computer science building on North Campus. If approved, construction is scheduled to begin in the fall and completed by Winter 2006.
“They will provide not only for faculty, but for students, both graduate and undergraduate … and will help us to be well-positioned for the future,” Engineering Dean Stephen Director said in October, referring to the building as well as other North Campus projects underway.
University spokeswoman Julie Peterson said she is not aware of any other important issues to be discussed, but added that budgetary issues might come up. The regents are set to vote on next year’s budget in July and University officials have given repeated warnings during the last few months of budget cuts and tuition increases.