Last Monday, John Fox, Director of Residential Life, proposed new residential payment rates for fiscal year 2018 to a small group of other faculty members and student leaders. The proposal consists of small, incremental increases to students’ room and board fees.
According to Fox, Res Life rates typically increase between two and four percent annually. “We work to keep housing rates as steady as possible, but they can increase when the costs of services from vendors, contractors, and utilities increase. Those expenses include things like utilities, furniture, and supply & labor costs for maintenance,” he said.
Fox opened the meeting by explaining where the money for students’ room and board goes. In particular, he highlighted the 2018 “Expense Impacts,” which consisted of debt services – “Money required annually to cover repayment of both principal and interest for capital projects” – and facility projects in Erickson and Harbor Hall on showers, flooring and roofing. Efforts to work towards all-inclusive utility rates for all halls were also subject to discussion.
The Res Life rates proposal for 2018 called for a 2.5% increase in pay for double suites, standard suites, triple dorm rooms, quad dorm rooms and apartments. However, the proposal also calls for the elimination of the single room fee (which currently stands at $604) as courtesy to those who would need a single room. The proposal did not call for any changes to the student meal plan deals. However, if the proposal is accepted, each meal plan will see a 2.2% payment increase. Fox made note that these fees are typically less negotiable because they are made in tandem with our third-party vendor, Chartwells.
Thankfully, the proposal also includes plans for many much-needed summer renovations. The East staircase in Patapsco will be repaired, and Hillside/Terrace will be getting a crawl space upgrade as well as replacement handrails. Most of the suggested renovations will be for Erickson and Harbor Hall. The Erickson Common Area and the Harbor Hall Interior Room will both be getting fresh carpets and paint. Both buildings will also be replacing many shower stalls and making roof repairs.
Fox, along with other Res Life members who attended the meeting, all stressed their desire for student feedback. For example, one student at the meeting asked why none of the Walker apartments have elevators, recalling an occasion on which her grandmother came to visit her and was not able to see her room due to a physical disability. Fox urged students to share their thoughts and ideas with Res Life.
Some students are already expressing their desire to changes and additions to residential halls. Nicole Christ, a junior Biology major, who lived in Chesapeake and Erickson as a freshman and sophomore, respectively, commented, “I’d like to see there be compost bins somewhere in the Res Life halls and better care of the washing and drying machines.”
If any readers have any ideas for residential dorms that they want to see funded, we encourage them to reach out to John Fox, or anyone else on the Res Life team. There is certainly a possibility that your ideas and suggestions could end up in Res Life’s proposal for fiscal year 2019.