By Lori Wysong
Elm Staff Writer
Depending on where you choose to live next year you could be paying more for housing. As part of a plan to support the cost of maintenance and renovations, housing could cost as much as $8,500 next year.
At the Tuesday, Jan. 30 Student Government Association meeting, Dean of Students Sarah Feyerherm, Director of Residence Life Ursula Herz, and Vice President of Finance and Administration Rahel Rosner answered questions and explained the new pricing system.
Their presentation showed pricing data and projections comparing Washington College’s housing and tuition prices with “peer institutions,” such as Goucher College, Juniata College, and St. Mary’s College of Maryland.
Feyerherm said that when Herz and Rosner were brought on staff, they provided a fresh perspective on the housing situation. They recognized that “we had kind of a crazy rate structure in our residence halls. It was a little bit complicated and it also wasn’t like what our peer institutions were doing,” she said.
According to Feyerherm, WC had been the third cheapest of 13 peer institutions. One goal of the new housing prices is to align WC’s rates with those of its peer institutions.
Rosner discussed her confusion the first time she examined WC’s prior housing system.
“We came up with some categories that seemed to make a little bit more sense,” she said.
The new categories will include Traditional, Renovated Traditional/Semi-Suite, Suite Style, and Apartment Style. Each one will have a different price range.
One of the most significant changes is that all students who choose to live in singles will pay $1,000 more per year. Rosner said that charging more for singles is a standard practice at many of WC’s peer institutions.
Many students present at the meeting expressed confusion over this upcharge, especially since suite style doubles with common rooms will cost the same amount as all other doubles under the new system.
In a separate interview, Herz said students who require single housing because of health or other accommodations will not be charged extra under the new housing rates.
“If a student can be accommodated in a standard rate single, then they would be assigned there and pay the standard double rate,” she said.
However, if students choose a single room in a higher rate area, then they will be charged the full price of that single room.
The College representatives shared that the extra revenue from this plan will be going to building renovations. Feyerherm spoke of the renovations that Kent underwent last year, and told the SGA that Minta Martin will be getting new windows this summer, and Reid will be renovated sooner than expected, which, as Herz put it, “kind of threw a bit of a monkey wrench in some of the plans.”
Next fall, Wicomico, Somerset, and Worcester will also be closed for renovations.
In a separate interview, Rosner explained that they will re-open as a single, connected dorm: Cullen.
“In the case of Cullen, one of the many drivers was an investment we made (at that time) in a short-term fix to the heating system which we knew required a complete renovation. Another driver was the student experience and the strong desire to unify the hallways,” she said.
Residence Life has been studying how students are using their dorms and common rooms to make decisions on how to else to change these spaces.
Herz said that “college students spend 70 percent of their time in residence halls,” and that the goal of Residential Life is to provide WC students with a “better daily experience.” Part of the revenue will go toward buying more comfortable, better fitting furniture for dorms and common rooms, and putting up artwork in the residence halls.
According to Rosner, WC has historically not been as consistent as its peer institutions in renovating and maintaining its buildings, and investing in “quality.” She said that in deciding how to use this revenue, the College is constantly asking itself, “How is it that we can continue to make this experience an interesting one?”
Abby Wargo, news editor, contributed to this report.