Story by Matthew Parks, Contributing writer
Students attempting to reserve facilities in the Carr Health Building this semester will soon learn there are some new restrictions to keep in mind.
Amanda Hagan, co-president of the Murray State Dance Company, said the new policy changes are due to the statewide education budget cuts implemented by Gov. Matt Bevin this year.
According to an open letter from the Murray State Faculty Senate, those budget cuts have removed 9 percent of the budget for the fiscal year effective July 2016, totaling $4.3 million in cuts for Murray State.
Those cuts led to a variety of changes on campus including tuition raises, faculty cuts, program cuts and housing rate increases.
Carr Health houses classrooms and recreational space that can be rented out by student organizations, such as a swimming pool, gymnasiums and a dance studio. Previously, renting out those facilities was free to all student organizations.
However, there are now fees associated with renting out facilities for longer than one hour, according to the Murray State Carr Health webpage. Those fees differ depending on the event, length of time and other factors. A full list can be found on Murray State’s website.
For most organizations, the facility is free to rent for the first hour and each after that is considered an “event”, for which the group is charged $15 per hour.
The Murray State Dance Company is one group that has been affected by the new policies. The group, which consists of roughly 25 members, is an on-campus organization that helps dancers develop their skills and puts on an annual show in April.
Hagan said the group has always held their rehearsals at Carr Health at the beginning of each semester and continued to rehearse there throughout the semester for an average of 16 hours a week.
Hagan said the group is self-funded and has a very limited budget for each semester. For a group with little funding, these changes were initially devastating.
“It put us in jeopardy for a while,” Hagan said. “I was worried we wouldn’t exist anymore with nowhere to rehearse.”
Emily Rohrer, co-president of the Murray State Dance Company, agreed with Hagan’s worries. Rohrer said the group would have had to pay more than $2,000 in rental fees for the semester due to the new policies, which is almost the group’s entire budget for the season.
After a long search process for a place to practice, the dance company ended up back at Carr Health. However, their practice will be held for much shorter periods of time and for a much higher price.
Rohrer said she is hopeful the organization can offset some of their costs through fundraisers to help pay for costumes, shows and, now, studio time in Carr Health.
“We are very grateful to have the time in Carr Health that we do,” Rohrer said. “And we are very optimistic for our season given the situation.”