Housing proposal tabled

For the last three years, Oakland University’s residence halls have had more than a 100 percent occupancy rate.

This year, in line with a 4.1 percent enrollment increase, OU Housing saw a record number of requests to live on campus, prompting the unpopular decision to convert 112 single rooms into doubles. About 130 students were put on a waiting list.

With the William Beaumont School of Medicine expected to open in 2011, and undergraduate enrollment expected to continue rising, Mary Beth Snyder, vice president of student affairs and enrollment management, proposes to double the number of beds on campus over the next 30 years.

Snyder was planning to address the finance, audit and investment committee on Wednesday, but her proposal was removed from the agenda.

“The board (of trustees) wanted to work on the Human Health Building before anything else,” Snyder said, adding that she and the board agreed that the Human Health Building should be cleared financially before pursuing another construction project.

Though the new housing would be paid strictly through increased room and board rates, therefore not affecting the general fund, the proposed $28 million project would still be on Oakland’s books as debt, and Snyder said they can’t afford to take on too much debt at once.

University housing currently has 1,878 beds. The proposed housing complex would double that number over the next 30 years.

The first phase would add 438 beds through a three-building apartment complex that could open by summer 2012.

The U-shaped building complex is expected to be built between Vandenburg Hall and Walton Boulevard and would contain all apartment-style housing with each suite containing two or four bedrooms, a bathroom, and either a full kitchen or a kitchenette, as well as common areas throughout the building.

“We’re continuing to look at it,” Snyder said, “and I remain hopeful that we’ll be able to bring it up within the next few months.”

Snyder said the push back won’t alter the design or size of the housing project and that it’s merely a timing issue.

“In an economy that is tough, we all want to be very cautious about the debt the university is taking on and would be able to pay off,” Snyder said.

In the meantime, she said she still expects an increasing demand in housing, and will continue to be required to have waiting lists.

“Our goal is to house as many freshmen and sophomores, in particular, as we can on campus,” said Snyder. “If it requires doubling up rooms, we’ll have to maintain that practice.”

On the agenda: Human Health Building and Coke or Pepsico?