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June 07, 2010 - Image 4

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2010-06-07

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Monday, June 7, 2010
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Chem~fiC41an 4:atip

Behind the housing rates

Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109




Unsigned editorials reflect the official position ofethe Daily's editorial board.
All other signed articles and illustrations represent solely the views of their authors.
edA sed udge
'U' president shouldn't have power to dismiss complaints
The DPS Oversight Committee can't seem to catch a break. After
finally achieving proper representation, it received yet another
blow to its ability to investigate Department of Public Safety mis-
conduct when the University president was made arbiter of the validity of
complaints. This veto power is a clear and shameful conflict of interest, as
well as an attack on the spirit of the state law which established DPS and
its oversight committee in the first place. If the University wants DPS to
have any semblance of legitimacy as a protective body, it must ensure that
it has a robust and independent oversight committee.

Nearly 13,000 undergraduate and
graduate students, as well as families
of students, live in campus housing
provided by the University. In popu-
lation and infrastructure, University
Housing represents a small residential
city comprising nearly 5 million square
feet, including 16 residence halls, 1480
apartment units and a cooperative
house, plus seven dining halls and sev-
eral residential cafes. Next fall, we'll
open the first new residence hall in
more than 40 years: the North Quad-
rangle Residential and Academic Com-
plex. Add a new dining hall to that, too.
The residential experience for the
University is far more than the provi-
sion of spaces for sleeping and eating.
It is the commitment to welcoming,
safe, diverse communities that sup-
port and develop students' academic,
social and intellectual capabilities,
preparing them to pursue life with
passion, dignity and purpose. The
facilities, services and programs
behind that commitment require tre-
mendous resources, responsibility
and undertaking.
It requires a regular employee base
of approximately 650 skilled and
dedicated people to operate and sus-
tain this campus city - in facilities
maintenance, food services, resident
services and support, security, room
assignments and contracts, student
accounts, technology and network
services, planning and design, park-
ing and grounds, administrative and
business services. And throughout
its operations, University Housing
employs nearly 2,000 students annu-
ally for vital support in residential
services and programs. Housing's
total compensation to student staff
this year is approximately $7.5 million
- helping many finance their Michi-
gan education.
University Housing is a self-frnded
auxiliary trait within tire Division osf
Student Affairs. Housing receives no
revenue from tuition or state funding.
Practically all its operating revenue is
derived from student room and board
and apartment rental fees, making
cperating budget and rates completely
intercornnected. Cosnsequently, each
year as we examine the costs of Hous-
ing operations and develop budgets for
the next fiscal year, we must be good
stewards of our students' resources,
specifically their room and board fees
and their Northwood Community
Apartment rent fees.
With the participation of residen-
tial students, we have worked dili-
gently over the past years to reduce
operating expenses in order to rec-
ommend frugal room and board
rates, without sacrificing key servic-
es and programs for the residential
Wart to see more? Go to michiga

experience. Since fiscal year 2006,
University Housing has achieved $7.9
million in cost reductions that have
helped keep room and board rates as
low as possible.
This year, the Board of Regents
approved a room and board average
rate increase of three percent for aca-
demic year 2010-2011, of which one
percent would support higher operat-
ing expenses. The approved average
increase in rental rates for Northwood
Community Apartments is one percent
to meet projected operating expenses.
The increase in operating expenses for
both residence halls and apartments
was partially offset by more than $1.7
million in cost containment efforts for
fiscal year 2011.
The additional two percent increase
in residence hall room and board rates
will continue the capital improve-
ments of the Residential Life Initia-
tives, the planned capital program
launched in 2003 to improve U-M's
residential facilities.
Aging facilities have been revital-
ized and made safer and more com-
fortable for our students. Improved
spaces for study and community
experiences within Mosher-Jordan
and Stockwell halls have facilitated
our efforts to strengthen the connec-
tion between living and learning. The
Hill Dining Center has added a new
dimension to our campus food servic-
es. And to all of these improvements
and more, the student response has
been enthusiastic.
Yet, even as we move rapidly toward
the opening of the new North Quad
and the renovations to Couzens Hall,
there are other student residences in
need of improvements. Our campus
residences are of wide ranging sizes,
designs and ages: from Helen Newber-
ry Residence, built in 1915 and home
to 110 omenr, ts ursley Hail built in
1967 fosr 124t0 ment rod womn. Infra-
structure renewal - plumbing, wiring,
heating, floors to roofs - is an ongoing
capital need throughout most of our
hails and apartments.
Stewardship is the underlying prin-
cipletthat gides University Housing
and the Division osf Studenrt Affairs
in our recommendation of room and
board and apartment rental rates.
Specifically, it's a fine balance in stew-
ardship of facilities, programs and
student dollars. By carefully manag-
ing our operations and budgets, we
have been able to offer cost-efficient
rates that effectively sustain our facil-
ities and services and provide com-
munities that have purpose and value
for our students.
E. Royster Harper is the Vice
President for Student Affairs.
ndaily.com and click on 'Opinion.'

In February, the appeal pro-
cess for complaints heard by the
DPS Oversight Committee was
revised. Previously, ifthe director
of DPS objected to the hearing,
he could appeal to the executive
vice president. If that person sup-
ported the appeal, it would be
sent to the president, who would
then ask the Board of Regents for
a final decision on whether the
complaint lay within the jurisdic-
tion of the committee. Under the
new rules, the Board of Regents is
taken out of the equation and the
president is given the duthority to
dismiss complaints.
The effect of this rule change
is evident in the recent case of Dr.
Andrei Borisov. After clear mis-
conduct by DPS officers, Borisov
filed a complaint with the DPS
Oversight Committee. This is
undoubtedly a case that calls for
an in-depth, transparent investi-
gation. But such an investigation
is jeopardized by the president's
power to dismiss the complaint

as outside the jurisdiction of the
committee. University President
Marc Sue Coleman should allow
the hearigs to proceed, lest the
administration cast another dark
shadow upon the events sur-
rounding Borisov's termination.
But this situation demonstrates
a lesson that should have been
learned in highcschool civics- the
need for checks and balances. Any
entity with power over a group
of people must have legitimate,
independent oversight to ensure
that it stays within the limits of its
authority. Making the president
the judge of a complaint's valid-
ity willfully ignores this reality.
Instead, an unalienable conflict
of interest has been created, as it
is always against the immediate
interest of the University for DPS
misconduct to be publicized. The
opaque veil of secrecy that seems
to encapsulate the University and
DPS bureaucracy has been fur-
ther entrenched by this change.
The DPS Oversight Commit-

tee should be the sole arbiter of
whether DPS acted inappropri-
ately. In order for the commit-
tee to do its job properly, it must
be insulated from pressure by'
administrators, who will always
claim that DPS is acting prop-
erly to protect the University's
public image. Allowing anyone
in the administration to have the
authority to dismiss complaints
against DPS mares the commit-
tee less of an independent over-
seeing body and more of a way to
quietly sweep wrongdoing under
the rug. Even giving the Board
of Regents the final decision pro-
vides too much of an opportunity
for administrators to exert their
influence. The committee must
operate as a fully empowered and
independent entity.
The DPS Oversight Committee
is the only reason that DPS can be
called a legal, legitimate, protec-
tive force. But in light of recent
events, that portrayal is becoming
harder to believe.


Nicholas Clift, Emma Jeszke, Harsha Panduranga, Joe Stapleton

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