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CMU Board of Trustees put proposed student housing project on hold

The Central Michigan University Board of Trustees
Rick Brewer
WCMU News file
The Central Michigan University Board of Trustees

The Central Michigan University Board of Trustees decided to pause its plans to develop apartment-style housing on campus.

The trustees and President Bob Davies cited enrollment issues, economic uncertainty, and upcoming budget reductions for the 2022-2023 school year for putting the project on hold.

The trustees and Davies say the student housing project, known as the Washington Commons Project, has good merits and would help address the university’s number one issue: enrollment.

The board did vote to move forward with the demolition of Kewadin Village and the construction and redesign of several parking lots.

Rich Studley is the chairman of the CMU Board of Trustees. He says the higher education market is competitive and there is a strong correlation between housing options and enrollment.

"And having affordable quality student housing is an important part of enrollment. We know that some students have chosen to go to Western or Grand Valley, in part because their housing provides them with more and better choices," said Studley.

During the meeting, several CMU student and faculty spoke in opposition to the Washington Commons Project citing budget concerns, safety, affordability and the possible displacement of low income students from other university housing.

Studely said he understands the public’s anxiety over the project’s potential impacts and concerns.

Trustee Edward Plawecki said he cannot remember a single project that has received more thought and attention than the Washington Commons Project since his time on the board.

"Everyone is concerned, and we should be about enrollment, student housing, which is part of enrollment and the budget," said Studely. "So, part of the decision today was to tackle the budget first. And that gives us time to learn more about where we're at on enrollment."

President Bob Davies says early projections for CMU’s fall 2022 enrollment are showing positive growth, but those numbers don’t surpass this year’s graduating class.

The board plans to revisit the student housing project at their September meeting.

Rick Brewer has been news director at WCMU since February 2024.