Students respond to Western Shore price increases and new dining plan

By Autumn Scully

Elm Staff Writer

As rising WC juniors and seniors prepare to make their housing selections for the upcoming school year, they may be surprised to find that prices have yet again increased for the Western Shore dorms, along with the addition of a new meal plan option exclusive to those who reside there.

According to previous Elm coverage, the prices for dorms at WC tend to rise every year.

According to Director of Residential Life Amy Sine, this is a decision made by the Office of Finance and Administration based on factors such as projections, occupancy, and inflation.

Before the summer 2023 renovations including the addition of a full kitchen featuring a stove and pantry in Western Shore dorms, their single prices were equivalent to the River Dorm singles of Sassafras and Chester. However, according to a March 15 email sent out by Residential Life, Western Shore singles are now priced at $10,336 a year compared to the river dorm singles at $10,070 a year, making them the most expensive singles at the college.

While students do not have an issue with Western Shore dorms being priced higher than others after the renovations, they do have issues with the general quality of the dorms at their high price points.

“I understand paying more for apartment-style housing, but these dorms seem to have constant problems that don’t get addressed,” junior Ryan Morrow said. “My friends who live there this year found massive mold patches when moving in… for that to cost more than off-campus housing that we are not even allowed to utilize is so ridiculous.”

WC students are not allowed to live off-campus unless they are seniors with excellent academic and social standing, which, according to Morrow, has long been a point of contention with students.

Sine cites this issue as the reason Western Shore dorms were renovated to include kitchens in the first place.

“Because we are a four-year residential campus, we wanted a place for our returning seniors and some juniors to feel like they had that apartment-style living,” Sine said.

To supplement that apartment-style living and potentially offset some of the extra costs, WC now offers a new meal plan exclusive to Western Shore residents.

According to an email sent out by dining services on April 2, the new plan features 75 meal swipes and 1000 dining dollars. It is priced at $1,800 a year, with the next cheapest meal plan for those who reside on campus being $3,071 with 150 meal swipes and 600 dining dollars.

Sine explains that students are required to purchase some sort of meal plan to prevent food insecurity. However, WC has been planning to offer a lower meal plan to Western Shore residents since the dorms were renovated to include kitchens last summer. The plan was not finalized in time to be offered to this year’s residents.

“They [Western Shore residents] are probably going to spend some money on groceries, but they can choose what groceries they want, and the grocery stores are within walking distance,” Sine said. “The meal plan provides them with the space to do that.”

Students seem to have a better response to the new meal plan than the increased housing prices and plan to utilize it in addition to cooking.

“I’m glad they’re offering a new meal plan for Western Shore next year,” Morrow said. “That feels reasonable and finally a decision that doesn’t financially damage students for something they don’t want.”

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