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Housing changes to be implemented in fall 2019 semester

In an email sent to the Beloit College community, Residential Life and Facilities announced several changes to expect next year in terms of on-campus housing. The changes will affect students as they prepare to enter the housing lottery for next year.

Notably, many dorm halls will be converted into First-Year Halls, a move that forces current students in any of the changed halls to enter the lottery– even if they wished to keep their spot.

Aldrich, 609, Brannon, Maurer, Blaisdell and Bushnell will now be designated as first-year halls. In the email, Residential Life cited the move as “a way for first-year students to live in a central space to build connections.”

While 609 was previously designated as a co-ed, substance-free hall for 40 plus first-year students, the hall was closed for the entirety of the 2018-19 year as it received needed renovations. Those renovations included all new flooring and paint, new fixtures and countertops in the bathrooms, along with the resurfacing of the floors and walls of the bathroom and showers. New furniture was also added to the residence hall.

Brannon also received some renovations over Winter Break. Those changes featured new carpet, paint and hardwood floors in the lounges.

Speaking to The Round Table, Ryan Bouchard–Senior Associate Dean for Student Life– clarified how Residential Life decided which residence halls would change to first-year halls: “We certainly looked at the data of which halls are most popular for returners. And we chose ones that were not to stay as first-year halls.”

Additionally, Bouchard noted that the “second big reason” for the changes was that the college is “ trying to make sure our most popular halls are full. Our returners have the ability to get singles, which is exciting. And for the first year halls, we’re able to get a little creative…It’s better for the first year experience to not be isolated in a hall with a bunch of juniors.”

These changes mean a significant amount of rooms will become first-year only rooms. Aldrich, one of the largest residence halls on campus normally houses 100 students, Brannon houses over 60 students and Maurer houses 50. Bouchard recognized that this is a lot of rooms to fill: “If our freshman class isn’t as big as we hope then we might have to say, for example, Blaisdell isn’t going to be open. We’ll just have to cross that bridge.” He added, however, that “it’s too early to tell” if closing another hall would be necessary.

Data, according to the original email, also indicated a clear demand for more singles. In recognition of that, rooms in Peet, Porter and Whitney will be converted into singles. Porter will also be changed into an all-female dorm.

The closing of Chapin may not come as a surprise to many students. The selection of the hall to close was done in partnership with facilities, according to Bouchard, who determined that it was the hall in the greatest need of changes.

Another change on-campus that students will be seeing is the closure of the special interest dorm, Art House. While it had originally been announced the Feminist Collective, Spanish House and Art House would be closing at the end of the semester, pushback and conversations with Bouchard ultimately led to the change in plans. “Students were really helpful,” Bouchard explained, they helped him “understand a little bit more about the state of their house, the value of staying there.” The conversations, he added, showed “a clear desire for the students to stay.”

However, Art House’s condition was not the same as Spanish House or FemCo. Instead, Art House will now be located at 840, currently a first-year hall. Next year, 840 will be converted into an art-dance community where two floors will serve as Art House and another floor will work as Dance House. Students from Art House will also be allowed to paint the space as they did in the old Art House.

For students that may be affected by the many changes that were announced, there will be no special lottery. Instead, Residential Life remains hopeful that there will be no change in their ability to get a dorm they may like.

Lottery number drawing began Monday, April 15 based on classes. The selection of rooms will begin next week.

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