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University News

Housing overhaul seeks to foster community ties

By
Senior Staff Writer
Thursday, September 13, 2012

Keeney Quadrangle's renovation, which will be completed next summer, features expanded and overhauled lounges.

As the University undertakes a $67 million dorm renovation project, major changes have been made over the summer to several residence halls. The plan for a reorganized campus housing system, which incorporated feedback from groups such as the Undergraduate Council of Students and Residential Council, is intended to better suit students’ needs as they shift over the four years.

The University is creating a sophomore-specific residential area at the “core of the campus,” said Richard Bova, senior associate dean of residential and dining services. Sophomores will be clustered in Slater, Littlefield, Hegeman and Caswell Halls, Hope College and Wriston Quadrangle.

“During my 10 years here, I have seen sophomores disenfranchised because it seems we don’t care about their housing,” Bova said. “They get the leftover lottery spots after juniors and seniors pick, and so they are scattered across campus. The community is fractured.” 

Under the new clustering plan, students will “naturally progress from two first-year areas, in Keeney (Quadrangle) and Pembroke (campus), to the center of campus for their sophomore year.” This will provide opportunities for advising, tutoring and other sophomore-specific programs.

Hope and Littlefield ­- previously predominantly first-year dorms – were offered exclusively to sophomores in this spring’s housing lottery.

When asked how he felt about this change, former Hope College resident Ezra Lichtman ’15 sighed but then consented that the dorm is “far too good a location for freshmen anyhow.”

Next summer will see the renovation of Hope’s rooms and hallways and Hegeman Hall’s bathrooms, wrote Darlene Trew Crist, director of news and communications, in an email to The Herald. Hegeman’s bedrooms were renovated a few years ago, she added.

Slater and Hegeman will be sophomore-only starting in the fall of 2013.

“I think that in 10 years you will hear someone say, ‘Wow, my sophomore experience was as good as, or better than, my freshman year experience,'” Bova said.

Recognizing the impact of housing on student life – particularly that of first-years – the University is implementing major changes in hopes of cultivating community and comfort in residence halls.

Former Keeney residents were in for a surprise when they returned to campus this year. Top-floor lounges were renovated and expanded, and new kitchens were added, complete with high-end appliances. Bedrooms were renovated and outfitted with new furniture, and adjacent single rooms were combined into doubles.

“I’m jealous, but I’m glad it was done at some point,” said Amelia Grant-Alfieri ’15, a former Keeney resident.

“There are been very positive reactions to the improvements, and we’re excited to continue,” Klawunn said, adding that all first-year housing will be renovated by 2013. 

In addition to current first-year dorms, Miller and Metcalf halls will house first-years following the completion of their current renovation. Perkins Hall will no longer house first-years.

In previous years, Keeney Quad and Andrews Hall have included a mix of first-years and upperclassmen. Upperclassmen forced to live with first-years found their experience to be less than ideal, Klawunn said. “By the time you are a junior and senior, you are making choices that reflect your individual needs,” she added.

Next year, upperclassmen will have the choice of living on Wriston Quadrangle – as part of the Greek and program houses – and in Barbour, Minden and Perkins Halls and Graduate Center, Vartan Gregorian Quad and Young Orchard Apartments.

“What you want out of your residence hall is different every year,” said Margaret Klawunn, vice president for campus life and student services. “We are trying to make housing fit with the progression of your education.”

 

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