Due to the closing of the Holden Annex for renovations, there will be changes to housing for the 2015-16 academic year. These changes include making both Douglass and Babcock halls partial first-year dorms, increasing emphasis on all on-campus houses being filled to capacity, and until the afternoon of Tuesday, April 7, the increased housing pressure had called into question whether or not Greek Life would indeed be housed in Bissman Hall again.
Doug Brush ’77, former vice chair of The College of Wooster’s board of trustees, gave $5 million to the College this year. Four million dollars will go toward the construction of a new science facility, and the remaining $1 million is allocated for the renovation of Holden Annex.
According to Dean of Students Kurt Holmes, the anticipated changes to the Annex, which was constructed in 1921, include stripping down the stucco siding, refurbishing the bathrooms, updating the electrical system, and building an outdoor plaza/patio.
As the building was tested for asbestos earlier this year and found to be within a healthy limit, Holmes hopes to hire a student wrecking crew to begin demolishing the building “hours after commencement.” The building will be out of commission for all of the 2015-16 academic year; Holmes hopes that renovations to the Annex will be completed by July 1, 2016. Said Holmes, “when [construction crews] do things fast in the summer, we pay a premium to get it done.” While the College will save money by renovating the building during the school year, this means that Residence Life is short 48 beds that would typically be available to students. This, coupled with a level of uncertainty from admissions as to how many students will actually be in the incoming class of 2019, results in the need for a balancing act on the part of the Office of Residence Life.
According to Holmes, this is one of two pressure points that the office of Residence Life is dealing with for the upcoming year. The other is filling on-campus houses to capacity. While these points change from year to year, Holmes commented that housing does change every year as the sizes of the incoming classes fluctuate and various clubs and administrative buildings are moved around.
This year, the increased pressure to fill every bed caused some ambiguity as to whether or not Greek groups would be housed in Bissman Hall again for the 2015-16 academic year. Director of Greek Life Joe Kirk met with the Greek presidents on Monday evening to try and brainstorm possible alternative solutions if the Greek community was not able to fill Bissman to capacity, according to President of Delta Theta Psi Kaitlin Starr ’16. After meeting with members of Residence Life and various deans on Monday and Tuesday, Kirk reported that Greek life would indeed be housed in Bissman again.
Bissman Hall, which holds 142 students, had 132 students signed up to live in the dorm as of Tuesday, April 7.
Although five rooms remain to be filled, Kirk said that “during the room selection process some members may not get other spaces they wanted and are currently on the list to go into Greek housing if they don’t get their first option,” and expressed confidence “about being able to take care of those rooms at this point.”
There will also be changes to Babcock and Douglass Halls next year. This year, Douglass Hall was a first-year dorm, which caused difficulty because although it was officially a dry dorm, Douglass basement was considered a designated party space where alcohol was allowed during registered events. Next year, Holmes hopes to allay this issue by making at least the first floor of Douglass upperclassmen housing, thus creating a buffer of sorts between first-year halls and social events.
To compensate for this shift, Babcock Hall, which has historically housed the C3 program, will now be split, with the C3 program occupying one floor and the other floor being taken up by first year housing. Holmes said that this change was in part because the College tries to keep first-year housing as localized as possible.
Although Holmes said that typically, it takes until approximately July 15-Aug. 1 for every student to be placed in housing, he is not worried about any student not having a bed next year.