With student enrollment reaching a new high this semester, Student and Auxiliaries Services decided to begin charging student organizations an extra fee for adding additional items, such as extra chairs, to student organization meetings if it changes the set configuration of an area within the student unions.
“The important thing to note is that not every space will have an automatic charge to change the configuration,” Student and Auxiliaries Services spokeswoman Michelle Froese said. “Several rooms have permanent configurations.”
Students can use and reserve the meeting rooms free of charge, according to the MU Student Unions website. In order to have the configuration of a meeting area changed, Student Union staff are required to change the configuration of the room.
“The reason it costs to change the configuration is you have to have staff who can change the configuration for that meeting, and then change it back for the next person,” Froese said. “We’re trying to keep our cost low in both Memorial Union and the student center. So, this is one way that we’re going to have to do this, given that student organizations, academic departments and different campus entities can reserve the rooms free of charge.”
Heath Immel, associate director of the Missouri Student Unions, addressed concerns about the change in an open letter to MU students and staff on the Student Unions website. Immel met with the professional staff of the Department of Student Life last month to discuss the change in hopes that the staff would pass the information along to student leaders, staff and organizations.
“In reviewing past meeting room usage, we have found that many rooms do not need to be reconfigured multiple time a day,” Immel said in the letter. “To continue maintaining the quality of our facilities and to be good stewards of our limited resources, we are establishing a fixed room setup for many of the rooms that are available throughout the Missouri Student Unions. We understand that some events may require a special layout and we can accommodate those requests with a nominal room setup fee of $25.”
Immel also said last year similar costs were implemented in Stotler Lounge and Mark Twain ballroom, in the letter.
“I have heard some complaints from student organizations about it,” Missouri Students Association President Eric Woods said. “A lot of (organizations) don’t have much money to spend on changing around rooms.”
In previous years, rooms have been reconfigured up to five times per day, according to the website. Between Memorial Union and the student center, there are 36 rooms available for students to reserve. Also, eight locations on campus, including Chamber Auditorium and Wrench Auditorium, have a set number of seats within the room. Student organizations will not be charged to use these rooms because it is impossible to alter the number of seats within the area.
“Each room is supposed to come with a pre-set number of chairs,” Woods said. “If someone needs to come in and change the way the room is set up, there will be a fee associated with that.”
The changes for Memorial Union and the MU Student Center went into effect Oct. 1.
“It will adversely effect some student organizations,” Woods said. “At the same time though I think that the unions are setting up rooms for every circumstance.”