The Union University Student Government Association met April 19 for their bi-weekly Senate meeting and passed legislation about housing and meal plan costs.
Josiah McGee, president of sophomore council and political science major, presented Resolution 196-17, or “Housing Costs Resolution of 2017,” asking that the university examine proposals to improve the affordability of housing.
“This piece is sophomore council’s primary priority, so to speak, for this semester,” McGee said. “We’ve taken a look at a number of things that could’ve potentially played into this.”
The resolution included three main parts. First, McGee addressed the fact that most students are required to live on campus, yet to do so, they must take out additional federal loans. The current policy states that a student seeking to live off-campus “must currently demonstrate the completion of 96 hours, live with family in Jackson, or receive an exemption for financial need.”
McGee suggested that exemptions be made for students who, in order to comply with the on-campus housing requirement, would have to take out additional federal loans, equal to or greater than the cost of housing.
Also included in this section was the concern that housing costs often increase while students are living on campus and that it hinders them from being able to make fully informed financial decisions. Students appreciated the freeze on housing costs for the 2017-18 academic year, so Senate would like for students’ housing costs to be consistent during their time at Union, if at all possible.
Second, the resolution addressed some concerns students have with the current meal plan policy. For example, Grace Ann Gammon, freshman elementary education major and vice-chair of Freshman Council, applied last year for an exemption from the meal plan, due to health reasons. When that was rejected, she submitted another application for a decreased meal plan, which was also rejected.
“I am allergic to dairy and I have a intolerance to gluten,” Gammon said. “While I understand Cobo can offer other things, it isn’t the best. So I rather spend my own money at the farmers market or something.”
The Student Senate suggests that each year the amount of the required meal plan decrease, allowing students more flexibility to plan their own meals in accordance with their schedules and preferences and to not risk spending money on meals they aren’t able to or aren’t going to use.
Third, the resolution discussed a recent Residence Life survey that was taken, in which many of these issues were addressed. The Student Senate is requesting that all relevant information obtained through this survey be considered when the administration reviews the Housing Costs Resolution of 2017.