Looking Back: Meadow Brook Hall money troubles

Bridget Janis, Features Editor

Meadow Brook Hall (MBH) has always been interested in  connecting students and Oakland University as one of its pursuits. Many events like the Meadow Brook Ball, March Movie Madness and the Murder Mystery are opportunities for students to get involved while at the Hall.

In 2004, the scare of not having MBH almost became a reality.

Rusty Postlewate, associate vice president of Facilities Management at the time, claimed MBH would need $6.6 million in infrastructure repairs. The approved budget for MBH in the year 2004 was going to be a $408,706 deficit.

Erin McCarthy, an OU senior then, was passionate about saving MBH after hearing the news of the financial troubles. Her big idea for a solution was based on OU students working together to create an impact on MBH. McCarthy was trying to save MBH by making it a bigger role in student’s lives on campus, and she ended up proposing this idea to the Oakland University Board of Trustees.

McCarthy’s plan was to add a $20 fee to each student’s tuition per semester. While adding this fee, students would have received free year-round tours for themselves and family members; free events, jobs and internship opportunities; leadership positions on a Student Advisory Board and meeting space for student organizations. However, McCarthy was aware that this was not a permanent solution, and said, “it’s obviously not going to cure their problem.”

Some students, such as then Student Body President Jonathan Parks and Student Liaison Rhonda Hanna, did not support this plan. They believed money should be prioritized toward academics rather than MBH.

“It’s not the students’ responsibility to fund the Hall,” Parks said.

At the time, closing the Hall was not the intention. Board chairperson Henry Baskin claimed the university needed a plan to find the $6-7 million that would have been needed to keep the MBH in a functioning condition.

To Baskin, McCarthy’s plan was a good idea, but other fundraising methods could be used. He was looking for a way to raise the funds without using any OU member’s money.

“We have to find the money without going to the students and saying, ‘We’re going to add that to your tuition bill.’ We want to preserve this icon. This structure is important to us,” Baskin said.

OU was exploring multiple options to save MBH and continue the traditions the hall delivers to students.

“The university would be at a great loss if something happened to Meadow Brook Hall,” Michael McGuinness, then Student Activities Funding Board chairperson, said. “We’re all working toward the same goal.”

The university began to look for ways to fundraise for the Hall. They tried hosting events such as ice skating and dinner and a movie. Students, staff and faculty were trying their best to keep the Hall open.

Today, MBH still stands and aims to be welcoming to all students and faculty. The Hall still hosts many events for OU and gives students the opportunity to become more involved on campus.