The University of Rhode Island is looking to make changes to the oldest residence halls on campus and bring them up to the standard of newer dorms in an effort to retain more students in Kingston.
Housing is an essential part of both getting students to and retaining them on campus. Whether or not students are satisfied with the school’s options determines if they will choose to stay. The Department of Houseing and Residential Life’s focus is currently on the four oldest dorms, Aldrich, Burnside, Coddington and Dorr, because of the number of student complaints received and the general concern with keeping students on campus happy.
“What we want to do is upgrade the remaining four buildings of the Roger Williams Complex to the standard that Hopkins and Ellery are now,” John Sears, assistant vice president and director of Housing and Residential Life, said. “That includes taking out the built-ins [furniture], flooring, new carpeting; kind of a face-lift for the interior of the building.”
A decision was made to not demolish the remaining four buildings in the Roger Williams Complex. Instead, Housing and Residential Life will be renovating the interior of the dorms just like they have done with Ellery and Hopkins.
“The question of replace, augment or what to do with the Roger Williams complex was basically answered with the amount of money that Housing and Residential Life has put in to the complex over the last two years,” Sears said. “Basically we’ve spent a little over $10 million in the last two years, and that went primarily into the renovations of the bathrooms, which have gotten really great reviews.”
Some students have mixed feelings about these renovations. While the recently-redone bathrooms are definitely an improvement, the security which accompanies their transformation may be more extensive than is necessary.
“The bathrooms are actually pretty nice, they just redid the bathrooms over the summer,” Xavier Mink, a sophomore at URI who lives in Dorr said. “You have to swipe your card and then put in your own combination.”
These extra measures of security were intended to help the students. In past years, once someone entered any residence hall in the Roger Williams Complex, any of the bathrooms could be accessed. Since residents are responsible for taking care of their own bathrooms, the rooms are meant to be semi-private.
Unfortunately, improvements to the locks and entrances have also caused some unintended problems. If residents forget or lose their student IDs, they are unable to get into their Â respective building, bedroom or bathroom. Additionally, if your ID is misplaced too often or after one in the morning, there is a $5 penalty for gaining access to your own dorm.
“I feel like it should either be just a swipe or just a combination,” Mink said. “I don’t know why they have both. You have to have your card on you at all times, no matter what. Going to the bathroom at night is a pain, especially when you lock yourself out.”
Built in the 1960s, the Roger Williams Complex contains some of the oldest buildings on campus. In addition to the old age, Mink had a bee problem earlier in the year in Dorr that took weeks to fix.
“We thought they were coming through the room originally, so we had the screen replaced, had the windows closed,” Mink said. “I looked out the window one day, and I see this hole in the wall that they’re coming through. So we had him [the exterminator] come back and he sprayed the hole, and [apparently] the bees were coming up through the vents, the heating vents, of our rooms. The whole fourth floor had this problem.”
Mink was informed that the exterminator had not come to Dorr before the school year started. Once in the room, they refused to remove the many dead bees that he had already killed himself.
“We would close the windows, we tried a lot of things, and every morning they would still be there,” Mink said. “I killed about 60 bees in those two weeks, that’s a low-ball.”
The plans for renovations to Aldrich, Burnside, Coddington and Door should by the summer of 2016. The goal is to have all four buildings upgraded to the Ellery and Hopkins standards. The Housing and Residential Life department worked with a focus group of students last January and brought in a consulting firm to make decisions about the future renovations.
“We are very sensitive about making sure we put money back into the residence halls to make sure that they are serviceable and that they meet current students’ expectations,” Sears said.