Zahm House to close, become transitional housing for Sorin College in upcoming year
Observer Staff Report | Monday, March 15, 2021
Zahm House will be used as a swing hall for students in residence halls undergoing yearlong renovations, according to an email sent from the Division of Student Affairs to the Zahm community Monday evening.
Current Zahm residents can transfer to another men’s dorm or move off-campus, the message said. Students who are eligible to live on campus will receive more information from the Office of Residential Life this evening.
“You may select up to two preferred halls, subject to availability and not including Sorin,” the email stated. “You can also apply with up to three Zahm residents who will join you in your new hall. You will participate in room picks through your new hall’s lottery.”
In addition, Zahm residents can elect to live off campus while still earning credit for the residency requirement.
The message also said there are a variety of reasons Zahm is being dismantled, including a lack of adherence to COVID testing protocols in the dorm, incidents of vandalism and concerns about the dorm’s culture and conduct despite several years of intervention by the University. However, the message claims there is no one reason why the decision was made.
“No single issue — reputational, conduct or COVID — is the reason for this change,” the email said. “We also recognize not all residents have perpetuated this culture. Yet taken all together, we no longer believe Zahm is equipped to welcome new students in a manner that we can offer and is owed to every student.“
The email said that the University had previously tried several different methods to remedy this culture, including assigning experienced rectors to Zahm and banning the hall from participating in RecSports.
University officials expressed disappointment that the choice had to be made but recalled successful student transitions to new residence halls after the closure of Grace, Flanner and Holy Cross Halls in the past.
“Closing a hall community is never our preference, but our experience indicates students have been able to thrive in their new homes,” the message said.
Residents of Sorin College will live in the Zahm building during the upcoming academic year while they undergo hall renovations, according to a separate email from director of residential life in charge of housing operations Jonathan Retartha.
According to Retartha, the renovation will fulfill the original architectural plans of creating a three-story western addition while maintaining the character of the hall and giving students comparable space to other newer men’s halls.
“The additional space will be used to create greater equity in community building rooms like kitchens, social lounges, reading rooms and study spaces, ensuring Sorin offers comparable spaces to newer halls, such as Dunne and Baumer,” he said.
Sorin students will be able to select rooms in Zahm next month through the room picks process.