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Tiered room and board prices provide options

In response to feedback from students, the university will change room and board pricing beginning fall 2014. Instead of paying the same price for all rooms and meal plans, students can now choose from different tiered pricing options.

According to a university press release, “Students almost unanimously asked for four things: tiered pricing, more meal periods, a cheaper option and more Sodexo bucks.”

Next semester all of those changes will go into effect.

“You have to find out how it all [students’ requests and concerns] balances out within a financial model,” said Tim Philley, chief operating officer. “That’s what we did. We did our best to try to listen to students and do our best with what they were requesting. At the same time, we have to be careful that we don’t blow up an economic model.”

The tiered pricing for rooms gives male students five options and female students 10, with the option of living in Gabby.

Philley said every year inflation accounts for about a four percent rise in room and board pricing. With the change, some of the price increases were avoided.

EMR and Claudius double rooms dropped $208 and private rooms dropped $500. Private rooms in Gabby dropped $8 instead of rising. Prices for towers rose about $250.

“We tried to look at [if] the pricing [made] sense,” Philley said. “Everybody knows that some facilities are nicer than others. Some facilities are bigger than others. So, why are all the prices the same? We tried to do our best with balancing those out with rating the size and conditions of those rooms.”

Philley said coming up with a balanced price was difficult and probably changed four or five times before settling on a model that made the most sense to them.

“ The meal plan will change significantly. You have continuous dining from seven to seven; it never shuts down,” Philley said. “With the ‘all-access,’ you can come in 100 times a day. When I looked at it from the perspective of cost and savings, you used to have the 19 meal plan or the carte blanch plan. It was unlimited access, but it came with no Sodexo bucks. None. You were paying $2,476 for a carte blanche plan. If you go to the All Access 300, you now get a carte blanche plan with $300 for $20 more. It’s a pretty good deal.”

The new meal plans include three “Flex” plans, which include unlimited dining hall access and a specified amount of Sodexo bucks.

“What I heard from students was, ‘I couldn’t make it to breakfast or I couldn’t make it to lunch. My meal plan doesn’t feel very valuable to me,’” Philley said.

“With any type of change, you’re going to have some people that are happy and some people that are going to be disappointed. With the majority I think we made the right decision for the way we structured the meal plan, and that’s what we’re trying to accomplish.”

There are also two “Basic” plans. The “Basic One” offers 10 meals in the dining hall per week. The “Basic Plus” offers 14 meals per week and $100 Sodexo bucks. The “Basic One” is the cheapest meal plan.

“Our directive was trying to create tiered pricing and trying to keep the prices as low as we can,” Philley said. “The president wanted a lower price option. Now you have a lower price option. You have a room that’s cheaper than what it was and a meal plan that’s cheaper than what it was. It may not be the meal plan you want. But if I’m solely here and in a position and trying to really save, you have some option.”

If you take the cheapest option for the room [EMR or Claudius] and meal [Basic One], you can save roughly $1,400 a year.
“I think some students will be extremely happy about it and some won’t be so happy,” Philley said. “The goal was to make students happy. This definitely wasn’t more in the university’s pocket.”

The average price for housing is $3,099 but will change to $2,889. The average price for meal plans this semester is $2,476 but will change to $2,445.

Philley said administration wanted to be sensitive to pricing and students’ concerns.

“I like the simplicity of the [new] meal plans, and I like how you can choose how much you want to pay,” junior marketing major Joshua Gazelka said. “But I would like having an option similar to the old seven meals a week, 500 Sodexo Bucks. Also I think a meal plan with only Sodexo [bucks] would be an awesome option.”

For a full list of changes, students can visit oru.edu.

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