Students question plans for Willard Hall
By HANNA LUGO
The University of Mary Washington is home to 18 residence halls, but only 17 are currently in use. Willard Hall was shut down for renovation because of a steam pipe burst over the summer of 2017.
According to the UMW website, Willard Hall is the oldest residence hall at Mary Washington, named after Frances Willard who was a well-known temperance leader who was heavily involved with the prohibition movement. It was built in 1911, with also having the first dining hall and a post office attached to it. It was known for upperclassmen students and fit about 92 students with hall bathrooms scattered throughout and central air conditioning.
Faculty plans are to restore Willard Hall into a freshman dorm with no single rooms. With Willard Hall out of commission, no residence halls on campus are a fully made up of singles.
Some students feel the privacy a single room offers is essential, while others feel that it is adequate to have an open community to make more friends. The future of Willard has brought up some controversy among the UMW community.
“I think we have too many freshman dorms already,” said freshman Delaney Quigley. “It’s just unnecessary. It’s a convenient location but that’s not fair to all the rest of the freshman who live across campus. It would be better as an upper classmate dorm.”
There are students who feel that upperclassmen should have more on campus options to choose from if they are not able to live off of campus.
“I think that UMW needs more single upperclassmen dorms because they’re so popular nowadays and the supply isn’t keeping up with the demand, currently,” said sophomore Sarah Smith.
Between each year, many students have expressed different perspectives on how they feel about the renovation.
“I think it makes a lot of sense because there are so many freshmen that live on campus,” said senior Alexis Ricks. “I do think that living together will help them make more friends! After living in a quad my freshman year, I made a lot of friends. These friendships have lasted all throughout my college experience as well.”
However, there are other contrary beliefs to Willard being renovated.
“Willard is situated with having four rooms to one bathroom – hall style – with the bathroom only having one toilet, one shower, and one sink,” said senior Rachel Dacey. “So if they’re doing freshman doubles, it’ll be eight people to one one-person bathroom, which just won’t work.”
Dean David Fleming was able to speak on the status of Willard Hall. As far as the process of renovations, he says “demolition and abatement began last week. The architects are working to finalize designs so that construction may begin as soon as demolition is complete.”
Administration has positive expectations about what the finished Willard Hall will look like.
“The goal is to return Willard Hall to its former glory,” said Fleming. “It will be designed for first-year students, containing a majority of double-occupancy bedrooms and hall bathrooms (with improved privacy for shower and stalls). There will be a large gathering space in the center of the first floor which will include a social lounge, a seminar space, and a community kitchen. We are also working to place some smaller study spaces on the upper-floors.”
Fleming also emphasized that the architects are designing the building to let more natural light into the building. The official date of completion will be in August 2019.