Providing more on-campus housing options for college students highlighted discussion during the Coahoma Community College and Coahoma Early College High School board meeting Monday morning.
CCC president Valmadge Towner said there were no immediate plans to add housing facilities, but it was something his board should be thinking about. He noted there is currently room to house 365 students and he hopes to add at least 60 more spots.
The dormitories at CCC are the George W. Moore Residence Hall, McKinley Martin Residence Hall, Friends Residence Hall and Sezzie McLaurin Residence Hall.
“We’re at an age now, these digital kids, ages 2 to 19, like to have their own space,” Towner said.
“We are swamped with students who want rooms. I will admit you will never be able to build enough dorms to house the needs.
“Dorms are extremely expensive. I just kind of want to put that out there on your mind.”
“What is the cost covered in the financial aid package?” board member Wayne Blansett asked after Towner introduced the topic.
Chief financial officer Deborah Valentine said the cost is $3,500 for room, board and tuition, annual but only $800 for housing.
Towner said the cost averages $7 a night.
“Somebody said, well, why don’t you just go rent the Uptown Inn?” he said. “Well, I don’t think they’re going to have us let rooms for $10 a night, so you can’t go to a hotel.”
Towner said letting students stay in the safe house and Pinnacle on campus would draw negative attention from media.
“They would eat it up,” he said. “Students would be OK with it, but we don’t have a building for it.”
“There’s not a quick fix. Mississippi State, Ole Miss, it costs the same to build dorms there as it does here, but they charge three times more.”
Towner said students have the capacity to pay more at a larger school, but he still would like to see improved housing at CCC.
“It’s just something we’re going to have to think about doing,” Towner said.
“You’ve got to have some more dorms, whether I’m here or not, whether you all are here at Coahoma or not.”
Towner said another way to provide more housing would be to make cuts in the budget. He noted, with more students on campus, the size of the cafeteria would have to be increased.
“Our cafeteria is already too small,” he said. “It’s a real interesting fix.”
Board member David Williams said students already have to commute 70 miles to school, which is a long way with current gas prices. Right now, he said there are not the facilities to accommodate everyone who wants to live on campus, but he hopes to see that change as it is important to recruit students.
“That’s a hardship,” Williams said of the drive. “It’s just hard on them. You’ve got to drive 70 miles a day. Now I can’t afford that.”
Towner said having a bus route for students is far away.
Another issue he mentioned was students in extracurricular activities, such as band, are taking up rooms on campus.
“You have baseball players,” Towner said. “You have the football team with a certain number. By the time you add in football, baseball, choir, basketball and your extracurricular activities, your dorm space is small. You have to crunch with those athletic programs.”
Towner said having all of the programs is a positive, but he still hopes to accommodate everyone who wants to live on campus.