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Information session details upcoming housing renovations

| Wednesday, January 20, 2016

An information session on new housing was held Tuesday night to elaborate on the email students received Jan. 13 detailing changes and renovations being made to housing on campus. The email said residents of Pangborn Hall will be moved to the new female dorm that’s currently under construction while Pangborn Hall will serve as a “swing dorm” for residents of halls under renovation during the school year. The new corresponding male dorm will be filled by application.

The Office of Student Affairs showcases pictures of what two new residential halls opening in the fall of 2016 will look like.Megan Valley | The Observer
The Office of Student Affairs showcases pictures of what two new
residential halls opening in the fall of 2016 will look like.

Heather Rakoczy Russell, associate vice president for residential life, said the addition of new dorms and renovation of existing ones is a continuation of the residential master plan that began in 2006.

“That residential master plan was largely aimed at what we call ‘decanting,’ or un-crowding the undergraduate residence halls,” Rakoczy Russell said. “A room, for instance, that’s a triple might become a double, doubles become singles and so reducing the configurations. Some of you probably live where study room have been converted into student rooms, so we, to the extent that we could, reversed that.”

Walsh and Badin Halls were the last halls on the list to be addressed by the 2006 plan, so they, along with Morrissey Hall, will be the first ones addressed with the new residential master plan.

“For the next chapter, we think of what will be the next residential spirit of Notre Dame,” Rakoczy Russell said. “What that master residential plan is focused on is some of the same, which is finishing decanting and equalizing heating and plumbing, but also something beyond that, something that’s special. That something is something we’ve come to call the ‘model program.’”

According to Rakoczy Russell, the model program consists of three categories: student rooms, common space and apartments for hall staff as well as priests and faculty in residence. These categories form the foundation for residents to “gather to share life” and offer a chance to “build Christian community.”

The new dorms, currently under construction, are located east of Pasquerilla East Hall and Knott Hall.

“These halls are complementary, but asymmetrical — we didn’t want the dorms to be carbon copies of each other,” Russell said. “We know our men and women’s dorms are different for many reasons, and we didn’t want them to be identical.”

Some of the differences Rakoczy Russell cited included full kitchens on every floor of the women’s dorm, with kitchenettes on floors two, three and four in the men’s dorm, space for food sales in the men’s basement and six-person rooms in the men’s dorm, as well as another apartment on the fourth floor for a priest or faculty member. Both dorms will have singles, doubles and quads.

Other features in the dorms, largely determined by student focus groups, include reading rooms on the first floor, a two-story open main lounge and unique rooms on the fourth floors, which Rakoczy Russell said was to encourage seniors to stay on campus. The chapels will also be highly visible from the outside.

“Our chapels are a central part of building Christian community in the residence halls,” Rakoczy Russell said. “By situating the chapel this way, this is externally expressed. When you walk past these halls, the chapel will be seen as its own entity.”

Rakoczy Russell said applicants for the men’s dorm and the remaining beds in the women’s dorm would not be based on merit, but rather on balancing demographics, including “major, hometown, home country, interests, race, ethnicity and nationality.”

Applicants will also have the option to apply as a group as large as six — the application will allow for students to indicate whether they’re only interested in moving if the whole group is selected, under the assumption they must accept if the entire group is chosen. Current Pangborn residents may also have the opportunity to “pull in” students from other dorms.

“We have a deep and abiding love for the residential system here at Notre Dame, and we’re so grateful to be part of this campus,” Vice President of Student Affairs Erin Hoffmann Harding said. “The motivation behind these changes is a reinvestment in the tradition we all hold so dear.”

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About Megan Valley

Megan Valley was Assistant Managing Editor for The Observer. She majored in English and the Program of Liberal Studies and hailed from Flushing, Michigan.

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