OU dorm and food costs expected to rise 5 to 7 percent, university official says
Students may be paying up to $282.17 more each semester administrators prepare to cut services and possibly increase room and board rates by up to 7 percent.
A 5- to 7-percent increase in OU Housing and Food Services’ room and board rates is likely in the coming academic year and Housing and Food Services’ Cate ala Carte room service will be cut to address increased costs, Housing and Food Services David Annis said.
The potential rate increases will address a 3.5-percent increase in food costs and an increase in labor costs, Annis said.
Members of the university’s Facilities Management department informed Annis of an upcoming $500,000 increase in utilities and a $600,000 increase in custodial housekeeping costs in the next year, Annis said.
“So those two figures alone necessitate us going in and making some adjustments to our rates,” Annis said.
Cutting Room Service will save $125,000, which means that with a 5-percent rate increase, Housing and Food Services will still face a $170,000 budgetary shortfall, according to the coming academic year’s rate proposal.
A 6-percent increase would get Housing and Food Services above the needed amount, which is why there is an opportunity for an increase between 5 and 6 percent, Annis said.
“Now at this point in time we’re still looking at other areas where we could save. I personally would like to keep the rate increase at about 5 percent but to provide all the services that HCSA is wanting, we may have to go to 6 percent. But I’m not sure of that yet, we’re still working on some numbers there,” Annis said. “And again, it’s a balancing act. We have to balance the income with the services we provide.”
Annis and Diane Brittingham, Housing and Food Director of Residence Life, met with Housing Center Student Association representatives for about an hour April 9 to discuss potential 5-, 6- and 7-percent increases, Annis said. He and Brittingham presented HCSA members with options for services that could be cut, and HCSA likewise made its own suggestions, Annis said. Additionally, HCSA presented Housing and Food Services with different services that it would like to be added, Annis said.
The three services and practices Annis and Brittingham proposed eliminating were food delivery Room Service, keeping Cate Center restaurants open on weekends and allowing unlimited card swipes for guests per visit to the Couch Cafeteria, Annis said.
HCSA did not want to close Cate Center restaurants on weekends or limit card swipes, so HCSA’s Food Committee voted to cut room service, Annis said.
HCSA is not opposed to closing Cate Center, but there must be a cheaper or meal points-based option to replace Cate Center in order for HCSA to consider it, Kallmann said. Annis did suggest that Couch Express could replace Cate Center’s services on the weekends, Kallmann said.
Based on repeated requests made by students to the HCSA, members proposed to Annis and Brittingham that meal exchanges be accepted at any time during Crossroads Restaurant’s operating hours, Kallmann said.
Currently, Crossroads does not accept meal exchanges between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. and HCSA requested that the Oklahoma Memorial Union’s restaurant accept meal exchanges all day, Annis said.
“Since Crossroads isn’t a branded concept that we have to pay commissions and royalties on, they thought maybe Crossroads would be the best place to give that a try,” Annis said.
Housing and Food Services is considering this request and the additional costs it might incur, Annis said. HCSA representatives were willing to implement as high as a 6-percent increase to obtain the requested services, Annis said.
Housing and Food Services administrators will request the 5- to 7-percent increase during the Oklahoma Board of Regents’ June retreat meeting in Ardmore, Annis said.