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The Blue & Gray Press | August 19, 2019

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Unforeseen pipe burst closes Willard Hall for the 2017-2018 school year

Unforeseen pipe burst closes Willard Hall for the 2017-2018 school year


Staff Writer

Over the summer a steam pipe burst under Willard Hall, rendering the building uninhabitable for the 2017 to 2018 school year. Bushnell was originally scheduled for summer renovation and was going to be closed during the school year, however, this plan had was postponed as a result of the damage to Willard Hall. After being notified of the change mid-summer, the 91 students who were scheduled to live in Willard were relocated to Virginia Hall and Bushnell Hall.

Along with being the oldest residence hall on campus, Willard Hall is also the only upperclassmen residence hall with all single rooms. The closure of the hall meant that many of these students who had requested a single room ended up with a roommate. This was a concern for many students who prefer to live alone. Additionally, some upperclassmen were moved into Virginia, a freshmen dorm, which was an issue for some students.

Reid Spencer, a senior Philosophy and Religion double major who describes himself as an introvert, prefers privacy. Spencer now lives in Virginia Hall with a roommate.

“I have to worry about waking my roommate up if I go to the restroom late at night, or if I come back late at night from studying,” Spencer said. “I sound selfish, but it is just my personal preference, and I was excited to be able to have that ability [to be alone].”

Residence Life recognizes the disappointment that students felt over the closing of Willard, and did their best to accommodate to the change in living arrangements.

“While the closing of Willard was unfortunate, my staff and the staff in Facilities worked tirelessly to address each student concern, expedite maintenance projects to prepare Bushnell for reopening, install air conditioning units in two residence halls, and redistribute countless pieces of furniture to meet our new occupancy needs,” Associate Dean of Residence Life, David Fleming said.

He explained that most students understood that the situation did not lie in Residence Life’s hands.

“Residence Life and Housing received a number of phone calls and emails from affected students,” Fleming said. “Many students were understanding of the situation and just wanted to make sure they would have a room and that their preferences were considered. We responded to each question and concern individually.”

Starr Attkisson, a senior Ancient Greek major, was supposed to be a resident of Willard Hall this year. While her relocation to Bushnell has been a positive experience and she understands the tight spot this situation put Residence Life in, Attkisson wishes the university would consider other lasting campus issues as well.

“Looking at the bigger picture though, lots of buildings on campus have mold problems or structural problems and the school is aware of that,” said Attkisson. “Instead of renovating the amphitheater and building these new, high-tech buildings like the UC and the HCC, I wish the school would have invested that money into renovating some of the older dorms. Alvey and Arrington are the first two that come to mind.”

Spencer shared similar concerns about the school’s priorities with building maintenance.

“I think they should have fixed whatever issue there was with Willard way before now,” said Spencer. “It hasn’t been renovated for over 30 years or so, I believe. I think they should have been more conscious of this and been more willing to work on it earlier.”