Don’t allow athletics to siphon money from housing, dining

Housing profits often go to other programs instead of benefitting their own projects



Despite the high prices of housing and dining, a lot of what students spend goes into a surplus that is tapped by other departments, like athletics.

ALEX BIVIANO, Evergreen columnist

EDITOR’S NOTE: Upon publishing this column, the primary source, Robert Tattershall, contacted the editors about misinformation regarding the content and his characterization. The editors are reviewing the recordings of the interview and will take necessary steps to assure the column’s accuracy. If we find that the information is incorrect, we will update the column to accurately reflect the state of housing and dining and Tattershall’s comments. Tattershall has been contacted and offered an opportunity to write a guest column to clarify the information. Disciplinary action will be taken if necessary to avoid mistakes like this in the future.


WSU is entrenched in a major financial deficit, and what is bothersome is not just the amount that is owed, but how we got here. Students pay a premium for housing at WSU, but the majority of what students pay does not wind up benefiting them directly, but rather other programs.

The cost of housing is determined based on expected revenue. Then, if the housing department does turn a “profit,” the surplus winds up in the university’s reserves, said Robert Tattershall, director of Housing and Residence Life.

While a certain portion of housing costs go to hall governments and the Residence Hall Association to provide programs, maintenance and utilities, the majority of funds go directly into university reserves.

Tattershall said there have been plans to use reserves to renovate Wilmer-Davis for years.

The problem is that we are no closer to renovating Wilmer-Davis now than we were three years ago, Tattershall said, due in large part to WSU Athletics draining our reserves. Over half of the decrease in reserve funding for the university can be attributed to athletics, as reported by the Evergreen last week. This is ridiculous, especially given the “independent department” status that programs like athletics and housing and dining supposedly have.

While housing and dining are truly self-sustaining departments that only spend money they possess, Tattershall said, athletics spends as it pleases. It is not fair to our officials in housing and dining who work to establish a balanced budget, to spend their savings on a department that is not essential to education.

Unlike athletics, dining charges students in order to sustain itself but still provides a much-needed service to the university.

Students should not have to keep footing the bill due to incompetence by the athletic department. I’ve been a Cougar football fan my whole life, but students should not have to suffer as a result.

If the university does not do as well financially, housing and dining doesn’t make cuts — some projects just aren’t completed, Tattershall said.

If housing is forced to make cuts, athletics should as well. While housing had to push routine projects back due to budget cuts, athletics is making bigger financial commitments like multi-million-dollar contract extensions for individuals like head football coach Mike Leach.

Universities were created for education, and the extra-curricular activities are a bonus. While many departments are forced to make budget cuts, athletics should be held just as accountable as every other department.

Students deserve to have their money spent responsibly. Housing and dining and other departments should not put projects on hold because athletics overspends.