Much needed renovations for North and E-Complex Residence Halls are underway this summer, providing additional on-campus housing space for the freshmen class. The newly renovated buildings will house a total of 177 students—170 incoming freshmen and seven residence assistants.
The incoming freshman class is set to be the largest RPI has seen, posing a difficult housing problem for Residence Life.
Discussion between President Shirley Ann Jackson, Vice President for Student Life Dr. Frank E. Ross III, and Vice President for Administration Claude Rounds concluded that renovating the closed residence halls was the best solution to the problem and fitted in with intended repairs for the buildings.
North and E-Complex were closed at the end of the Fall 2014 semester. A previous Poly article cited student complaints about the inconsistency of the water temperatures, poor control of the heating system, and bathroom conditions. The buildings, constructed in the 1930s, have had asbestos removed multiple times. There were also complaints about bugs such as cockroaches and centipedes.
Interim Dean of Residence Life Kathy Shellogg told The Poly that housing freshmen on campus results in higher retention rates. The residence halls grouped on Freshman Hill encourage a community feeling, with the long-term goal of having all residence halls on Freshman Hill house exclusively freshmen.
Sharp and Warren Residence Halls, located on Freshman Hill, will house sophomores during the 2016-2017 academic year. The Quadrangle, located across from the Rensselaer Union, will also house 200 freshmen this year to accommodate the Class of 2020.
Shellogg believes that this is “the one year we put first-years [in North and E-Complex],” given that the two are isolated from the other freshmen residence halls. Previously, the residence halls housed upper class students. “Location, location, location,” said Shellogg, referring to the ideal proximity for upper class students to both North Lot and common class locations like Sage Laboratories.
The Poly also spoke to Rounds about what renovations were occurring to the residence halls. Both residence halls will contain nearly an entire new interior for the incoming freshmen.
Some of the changes include the following: asbestos removal, new vinyl flooring, interior and exterior painting, new exterior lighting, and cameras for improved security.
The bathrooms have also seen upgrades in the form of new ventilation, replacement of fixtures, sink, and showerheads. The kitchens have been replaced with improved appliance, as have the laundry rooms. The controls for hot water have been improved and a new hot water tank will be installed in North.
With all of the upgrades occurring in both North and E-Complex, Residence Life says it will be able to accommodate all of the incoming students seeking on-campus housing.