Trustees approve 3.5 percent increase in room and board rates for 2018-19 term


The board of trustees listens to speakers talk about the March 2 shooting at the April 19, 2018 board of trustees meeting in the Bovee University Center.

Room and board rates will increase by 3.5 percent — or $340 — during the 2018-19 school year. 

The Central Michigan University Board of Trustees approved the increase during its April 19 meeting.

CMU is currently ranked 12th out of the 14 public universities with residence halls in Michigan when it comes to yearly room and board rates. The yearly rate is $9,736, said Barrie Wilkes, vice president for Finance and Administrative Services. The rate will be $10,076 after the increase, making CMU ninth in the state.

Wilkes cited the fact that CMU uses a significant amount of student labor in residence halls, particularly in Campus Dining, as a main reason for the increase. 

The university has gone through three consecutive minimum wage increases in the past three years, necessitating more funds to pay student employees, Wilkes said.

Wilkes said the statewide decrease in yearly undergraduate enrollment also factors into the rate increase.

“(The university) knows the number of graduating high school seniors continues to decline in Michigan and in the Midwest for the foreseeable future,” Wilkes said. “That’s one of the things that’s been making it challenging for us to decide a path forward for housing — (the question of) ‘What is our enrollment going to be?’’’

Graduate housing rates will see a 5 percent increase for the 2018-19 term.

Campbell Hall shooting

The university is in the process of deciding "what's next" following the March 2 double homicide in Campbell Hall that claimed the lives of James Davis Sr. and Diva Davis, said Sherry Knight, associate vice president for University Communications.

 Associate Vice President of University Communications tells the board of trustees about communication on the March 2 shooting on campus at the Bovee University Center during the board of trustees meeting on April 19, 2018.

"There have been countless conversations with faculty, staff and students," Knight said. "All of that information is being pushed up through the cabinet and to the emergency management counseling work group."

Among the ways CMU will improve its emergency management protocols is a push for the CMU community to make sure their Central Alert information is up to date, Knight said.

"Hopefully there's never a next time, but if there is, (we're looking at) how we give our on-campus folks — our faculty, staff and students — access to better information," Knight said.

In a private session following the meeting, Knight said lockdown procedures during emergency situations will also be examined and developed following the shooting.

"Each building has a (lockdown) plan, and we'll be looking at updating those and making sure it's clear within those plans (what faculty can do)," Knight said. "There's a lot of good conversation — a lot of groups (are) involved, (including) Environmental Health & Safety and the police department — everyone is involved in looking at what we do with (lockdown)."

President George Ross said this summer will see the completion of a two-year project to put locks on all classroom doors on campus.

Mental health and counseling services

Mount Pleasant counselor Tarami Sherlock spoke about her experiences with CMU's Counseling Center, and how it can improve, during the public comment session near the end of the meeting.

Sherlock said about 50-60 percent of her current clientele are CMU students — students who are not able to get into the Counseling Center because of its long waitlist. 

"I'm constantly receiving referrals from professors, faculty, counselors and residents, often in desperation, asking me to see their students," Sherlock said.

Though she has a lot of respect for the staff at the Counseling Center, Sherlock said the center is understaffed and its employees are underpaid considering the amount of students on campus needing therapy services. 

"The football team has more coaches for 100 players than the Counseling Center has therapists for more than 20,000 students," Sherlock said. "The numbers speak for themselves, and unfortunately mental health is on the losing team at CMU."

Sherlock began crying as she recalled messages from patients telling her they feel they would have died if they hadn't reached out to her.

Though the board of trustees typically doesn't respond to public comments, Trustee William Weideman said the university is undergoing a lengthy discussion, spearheaded by Steve Johnson, vice president for Enrollment and Student Services, about how mental health services on campus can be improved.

Ross said the university is looking for more effective ways to examine and deal with  mental health.

"We have a challenge in Mount Pleasant that they don't have in Grand Rapids and Detroit — the ability to go out and easily locate mental health care professionals (is harder) — we're just such a small, contained community," Ross said.