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Editorial: Keep renovating, ResLife

According to a recent Herald article (“Residents react to dorm renovations,” Oct. 2), students living on Wriston Quadrangle were pleasantly surprised to happen upon the results of summer renovations in their respective dormitories. Though we certainly commend the Office of Residential Life’s attention to these dorms, we urge a serious commitment to the renovation of some of our most neglected dorms, such as Graduate Center and Perkins Hall. While this same article indicated that ResLife is aware of this need, we would like to see comprehensive plans to seriously renovate these two dorms.

Obviously, these buildings require far more extensive and costly renovations than dorms on Wriston. Nevertheless, students living in these dorms complain of issues that do not befit the $7,972 bill they are charged every year for their occupation. This price rivals, and often surpasses, the price demanded by off-campus housing options that offer much better amenities.

Students do not expect to pay nearly $800 a month for a room with chipped furniture, bathrooms with leaky fixtures and kitchens with sub-par appliances. Unfortunately, students living in dorms that have gone unattended by ResLife face this reality. Especially for upperclassmen whose financial aid packages might leave them feeling compelled to stay on campus, this is deeply regrettable.

Moreover, Brown’s housing pales in comparison to that of its peers in the Ivy League, some of whom boast residential college systems that offer hotel-like living situations. It is unclear why, amidst its commitment to strengthening the Brown experience for all students, the administration has yet to commit to substantial renovations of dorms that simply do not reflect the quality expected at an institution such as Brown. While we do not expect every dorm to resemble Andrews Hall — endearingly called “Hotel Andrews” by some students — we expect dorms of a higher quality than Grad Center and Perkins.

In many ways, these dorms reflect the growth of the University. For instance, Grad Center was initially built in 1968 to house, as its name suggests, graduate students. This complex at one point even featured a cafeteria, seminar rooms and a lounge in Graduate Center Tower E. This is no longer the case, as the complex has become a home to undergraduates, who enter Tower E only for access to the Bears’ Lair and administrative offices (including, perhaps ironically, ResLife). In other words, as the University has grown and changed, structures once built to accommodate a much smaller university are now experiencing the strain of an evolving community.

While we appreciate ResLife’s stated promises to attend to these dorms, we believe it is time to communicate its plans of action. As the University grows, it must attend to quality in addition to quantity. It is our hope that the high cost of renovating dorms such as Grad Center and Perkins is seen as an investment in the students who spend months residing, studying and learning in them, rather than another burden to alleviate.

Editorials are written by The Herald’s editorial page board: its editors, Manuel Contreras ’16 and Meghan Holloway ’16, and its members, Emma Axelrod ’18, Noah Fitzgerel ’17 and Aranshi Kumar ’17. Send comments to


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