Staying out of the red

Emily Oliver

Through the elimination of positions and the reduction and elimination of programs, the Department of Residence has made up for nearly $3 million of an unexpected $3.3 million budget deficit it is facing this year.

The deficit was the result of an unexpectedly large number of students choosing not to return to the residence halls, which could partially be blamed on anger over a misunderstanding of the controversial Fresh Start program.

The Department of Residence has reduced expenditures from $40,873,500 to $37,959,800, which leaves a budget deficit of about $299,000, said Randy

Alexander, director of the Department of Residence.

The deficit was caused by a drop in university enrollment, which included 670 residence hall students, he said.

Alexander said the decrease could have been caused by a combination of an increase in tuition, an increase in competition by Ames landlords and a misconception that upperclass students could not live in the residence halls due to the Fresh Start Program.

The Fresh Start program focuses on three areas: emphasizing campus organization and membership, community service and personal development. The halls have more staff and are 75 percent freshmen and 25 percent upperclassmen.

“The word got out that [upperclass students] couldn’t live in the residence halls,” Alexander said. “We can’t make anyone move anywhere.”

All students who wanted to come back were able to and all but two of them were able to live in the same house they had lived in the previous year, he said.

Making cuts

The Department of Residence has cut money from their budget in different areas to make up for the deficit, Alexander said.

“We’re not state-funded; we have to make cuts or we’ll go in the red,” he said.

Ginny Arthur, associate director for residence life, said the Department of Residence went through all options that would not involve people first, then began to eliminate full-time positions and free others, she said.

Knapp Hall will be closed at the end of this semester to save an estimated $250,000.

Linden Dining Center will be temporarily closed to save $390,236, said Jon Lewis, director of ISU Dining.

The university also reduced dining service hours when dining services aren’t in high use during the holidays, he said. This will save $6,250.

Alexander said the Department of Residence hopes to reopen Linden Dining Center.

Professional development funds will be eliminated or reduced to save more than $100,000. A planned consulting contract was canceled to save $25,000. The contract would have involved positive communication strategies between students on controversial issues.

The Knapp-Storms computer lab has been closed.

Twenty-one student desk assistants throughout residence halls were eliminated to save roughly $60,000, Arthur said.

Arthur said these jobs included sorting mail, providing information to students and checking out equipment and keys to students.

The student desk assistants were informed of the elimination of their jobs Thursday evening by their supervisors and also through a written memo sent to them, she said.

Arthur said the students whose positions were eliminated can apply to work in dining service positions in the residence halls and in the Memorial Union.

The Department of Residence will also no longer have a staff support person from Administrative Technology Services.

Alexander said three positions within the Department of Residence have been eliminated: a secretary, a vending manager and an administrative services manager that “supervised areas of contracts and assignments.”

The tasks associated with these positions will be added to the responsibilities of others in the department, Alexander said.

The Department of Residence also cut money from the budget by freezing seven positions, which will save approximately $500,000 plus benefits, Alexander said.

Searching for reasons

Alexander said a lower number of freshmen, transfers and students returning to the residence halls has affected the budget.

Results from a survey showed 1,066 students did not come back to Iowa State, 3,162 moved off campus or had no available address, 3,477 remain in the residence halls and 34 moved to University Family Housing.

“The place that really hurt us was the sophomore pool,” Alexander said.

Sophomore enrollment was down 7.8 percent overall, or 390 students, and was down 15.2 percent in the residence halls, he said.

Three suite buildings were slated to be constructed in the Union Drive Association. The first, Eaton Hall, opened last fall, and the second is under construction, but construction on the third suite building has been postponed because of the budget constraints. The delay of the construction will also delay the demolition of Helser Hall and the west end of Friley, he said.

The Department of Residence tries to compete with off-campus property managers by providing a variety of housing for students, including suites and apartment style housing, he said.

Wallace and Wilson Halls are designed for sophomores and above. Frederiksen gives preference to juniors and seniors. Buchanan will be partly for students age 21 and older and possibly for younger students too, he said.

A sense of space

Some students opting not to return to residence halls are moving off-campus to live.

“Students are moving off campus to have better living conditions, more privacy and more amenities,” said Ev Cochrane Jr., property manager for Ev Cochrane and Associates, which manages nearly 700 apartments in Ames.

Brad Stehr, property manager for Total Property Management, said the cost to live off-campus may even be cheaper than living on-campus.

Stehr said students move off-campus to create space between themselves and the university.

College students make up the majority of the residents in the apartments managed by Total Property Management, he said.

Stehr said in the 400 apartments Total Property Management manages, there are under 10 vacancies.