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Residence Life could lose more than $250 per student living in halls under calendar change

The proposed changes to Central Michigan University’s academic calendar were met with overwhelming resistance across the board following a financial report released last Friday, including a hit to residence life and campus dining.

The changes, which include a one-week shortening of the academic calendar, would call for a re-appropriation for the residence hall room rates and an adjustment of meal plan prices.

According to estimates, the standard room costs each student $19.04 daily and an additional $17.49 daily for a 14-meal plan at any of the dining halls. Collectively, over the course of the missing week, CMU would be set to lose $255.71 for each of the more than 5,000 students currently living in residence halls.

These rates are increased to $21.89 and $24.79 daily for students in Robinson Hall and premium rooms, respectively. Meal plans range between $15 and $19 a day, depending on the plan. According to the report, this represents a total revenue loss of just under $3.3 million.

Tying in $770,000 in savings from expenditures by campus dining, residence life and utilities – the net revenue loss for CMU would still be more than $2.5 million.

“Please keep in mind that this money is not an Office of Residence Life loss but also Campus Dining, overhead paid to the university, as well as contributions to the university budget,” a representative from the Office of Residence Life said in the report. “This loss of revenue affects everyone and should seriously be considered before a change of this magnitude is undertaken.”

If rates are not changed to reflect the shorter school year, students can expect to pay an estimated $20.31 per day as the standard rate for the same room. If the proposed calendar goes into effect, either the university or the student body would have to absorb the costs.

“If we tried to do the same things, then the rates would change very little,” Associate Director of Residence Life Shaun Holtgreive said. “There would be some cost savings in the campus dining, and only some small labor and raw food costs. With the change, there would have to be substantial cuts in programing and maintenance efforts. It wouldn’t just affect one area, a revenue loss that large would affect across the board. It would definitely impact student life.”

If the cost is absorbed by CMU, the additional loss in revenue would significantly affect the program offered by Residence Life. According to the report, it could also affect their staffing, which is already minimal.

“The simple, obvious solution would be to leave the calendar as it is currently, beginning classes the last Monday in August,” the Office of Residence Life said in the report. “Short of that, we would need to adjust our staff training to a later date, and likely would have to cancel the Leadership Safari program; a successful, assessment-proven retention tool.”

According to the report, the financial toll on CMU could surpass $3 million before full implementation of the new calendar, with most of these costs arising from a shift in the residence hall rates.

“A very conservative calculation of the costs presented only by the responses presented below indicates the calendar change could cost CMU between $2.92 and $2.95 million if both room and board rates in the residence halls are reduced to reflect the reduction of time of occupancy,” Provost Gary Shapiro outlined in the report. “Overall costs might be higher, based on the limited number of responses and the inability to exactly predict costs.”

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