Make student housing a priority at today’s Board of Trustees meeting

By Postie Editors

Last fall, 100 male students were relocated to the Homestead Suites Apartments on University Drive due to a housing overcapacity at Oakland University. They lived there for the duration of the semester.

Today, students are encouraged to attend the Board of Trustees meeting — located in the Elliot Hall Auditorium at 2 p.m. — to help push to approve plans for a new housing facility.

Housing Director Jim Zentmeyer, who will speak at the meeting along with other OU students, is armed with a plan that will add 440 beds to campus housing next year.

Since the start of the fall semester, housing contracts have increased 16 percent, according to Zentmeyer.

In addition to that, OU has experienced its 13th straight year of enrollment growth, reaching an all-time high of 19,379 students this year, a two percent increase and record high.

We believe the demand for housing will increase, along with the number of students, and a new building needs to be created.

Currently, OU is trying to create a solid brand for itself and some believe the “commuter school” image is perceived as a negative.

If the university is serious about shedding the commuter image, they should start by increasing housing options.

It seems that some of the concerns relate to money too, but money shouldn’t be an issue.

The various housing facilities on campus all receive their own funding from room and board fees — which range anywhere from $4,000 to $10,000 a semester.

Instead of duplicating facilities, like the new $75 million engineering building, university administrators should move their focus to housing and creating a better, more campus-friendly living environment.

According to Henry Baskin, BOT president, housing is a priority, but not number one, as we think it should be.

He also added that the board received around 72 responses about housing proposals and they’re looking for a builder that will work at a set, student-discounted price.

Yet, the proposal will not be on the main agenda at today’s meeting.

The Oakland Post surveyed students in two polls throughout the fall semester and the results agree with us.

In regards to the engineering building, 58 percent of people polled thought the university was already spending too much money.

Another 57 percent of people thought a new housing facility was necessary.

OU has sent recruiters to out-of-state cities like Chicago, but we can’t even provide housing for the students we already have.

At this point, OU can’t support students from other areas of Michigan, so how can they expect to bring in more students from other states?

An increase in housing will also improve retention rates, which currently suck, to put it bluntly.

From 1994 to 2010, freshman retention rates have decreased 14.9 percent, according to information obtained from the Office of Institutional Research.

More housing and a better campus environment would add to that retention rate, since freshmen will see the benefits of living on campus and going to OU.

We’re expecting to make an impact at today’s meeting your help would be appreciated.

The staff editorial is written weekly by members of The Oakland Post’s editorial board.