Last spring, Bianca Rogers ’14 chose a single in the Hospitality House — now called One Tribe Place — during room selection. A few months later, Rogers received an email from Director of Residence Life Deb Boykin explaining that she was being moved to Chandler Hall due to mold issues in one wing of the former hotel. However, Rogers was unfazed by the change.
“It didn’t really bother me that much,” she said. “As long as I still had a single, I didn’t really mind.”
The conversion of One Tribe Place into student housing, the construction of the new fraternity and independent houses and the changes in freshman housing all contributed to a somewhat hectic few months. The Residence Life staff made various adjustments to prepare the new buildings for move-in and to ensure each hall would be staffed with Resident Assistants.
“Obviously it was a crazy summer for ResLife because there were huge projects going on everywhere, but overall I think there’s a lot of cool new housing options for people,” Head Resident Mary Grech ’14 said.
Among the new housing choices in last year’s room selection was One Tribe Place, which the College purchased in March. The acquisition of the building meant the College was able to meet the demand for on-campus housing — there was no waitlist for room selection.
However, students who had signed up to live in One Tribe Place received an email in June from Boykin explaining that approximately 73 residents would be moved to Chandler Hall due to the mold issues in the addition of the former hotel.
“Many of [the affected students] were disappointed — of course they’d be disappointed — but we ranked those assignments based on the order they’d selected the rooms,” Boykin said.
Some of the students who were notified about being moved to Chandler opted to take other available housing spaces on campus, Boykin said.
Despite the fact that many of Chandler’s residents were originally supposed to live in One Tribe Place, Grech said most seem happy with the building and its location. To accommodate the students who were moved, ResLife installed air conditioning units in each newly occupied room. Grech said two students share each bathroom, mirroring the private bathroom setup in One Tribe Place.
“I think people were initially really disappointed, obviously, but when people were moving in, they were really excited about it,” Grech said. “There were no huge complaints at all, because the rooms in Chandler are huge.”
Rogers was pleased with the amenities in her new room.
“I really like my room,” Rogers said. “I have a sink in my room, air conditioning, two closets. … It all worked out.”
Additionally, since One Tribe Place was purchased after RAs had already been assigned to their areas for the 2013-14 school year, Boykin said ResLife used a list of alternates in choosing the RAs for the building.
“When we go for our RA selection, we always have [alternates] because we always, every year, have people who sign up to be RAs who end up leaving the position for one reason or another,” Boykin said. “We always use that alternate list to fill the positions. We had a good number of alternates, so we just went back through that list and called people and made offers.”
This year there were 17 hires from the alternate list, but Boykin emphasized that the situation was abnormal given that nine positions were added for One Tribe Place and Chandler. She explained that ResLife also always holds four spots in freshman housing to be filled in May when the staff knows the makeup of the class and can determine whether to hire male or female RAs. In total, there were four other vacancies between February and the start of classes. Boykin said there are still students on the alternate list.
In August, Daniel Park ’16 learned his roommate had been chosen off the alternate list. Park is now living in a DuPont Hall double by himself.
“Mostly I reacted like, ‘Okay, well how’s the school going to handle this? Will they give me a new roommate or will I be living alone?’” Park said. “The school actually didn’t contact me. I waited for a week, so I called [ResLife] myself to get an answer, finally.”
The 2013-14 housing contract states that if a space in a vacancy like Park’s is not filled by Oct. 15, the student can request to keep the room a single but pay a “double as a single fee,” which is one-half the cost of the unoccupied half of the room in addition to the normal housing fee. If Park does not request to make his room a single, the College reserves the right to assign him a new roommate at any time — the same policy reserved across campus.
Some new buildings do not have RAs. There are eight housing assistants serving in fraternity and sorority houses, Boykin said.
As far as amenities in the new housing options go, Boykin said laundry should be available inside One Tribe Place by the end of the semester, and the staff is working hard to resolve the parking situation. Boykin said she has heard positive feedback from the building’s residents as well as from students in the fraternity and independent complexes and freshmen in the newly renamed Green and Gold Village.
“We really feel like the synergy of having those 400 students there will be similar to the synergy that’s always been there for Botetourt,” Boykin said. “There’s that community built around the courtyard, the porches, the way the buildings are laid out there.”
Looking ahead, Boykin anticipates a possible reorganization of housing areas to rectify the current imbalance in the number of residents per area director. Since the College will add 50 new freshmen next year, she said ResLife is exploring various options to fit the whole class in campus housing.